Pollution tax stokes Australian inflation
SYDNEY – (VNS) Australian inflation came in ahead of forecasts on Wednesday, rising a seasonally adjusted 1.2 per cent in the September quarter as electricity prices jumped following the introduction of a pollution tax.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the consumer price index was 2.0 per cent higher on-year as power prices rocketed 15.3 per cent.
Analysts had expected quarter-on-quarter inflation of 1.1 per cent, and 1.7 per cent over the year.
The spike in electricity prices followed the introduction on July 1 of a A$23 per tonne (US$24) tax on pollution linked to climate change. Australia's coal-fired power stations are big emitters.
Apart from electricity, the bureau said the prices of gas and other household fuels, vegetables, international travel and medical and hospital services were the major drivers of the bigger-than-expected increase.
Underlying inflation, a measure which strips out volatile items and is used by the Reserve Bank of Australia in determining monetary policy, was up 0.75 per cent in the quarter and 2.5 per cent on an annual basis.
That is well within the bank's 2.0-3.0 target range.
The Australian dollar jumped to $1.0303 from $1.0271 on the data, seen as reducing the chances of an interest rate cut in November.
"It's still well behaved, core inflation, but it is moving up a little bit faster than we anticipated and you'd have to argue that there is a bit more broad-based strength in prices," said RBC Capital Markets economist Su-Lin Ong.
"The market is going to question whether there is another rate cut on the cards."
Australia's central bank cut rates to 3.25 per cent this month – their lowest level since the height of the global financial crisis – in a bid to shore up the economy against a weakening outlook.
Canberra cut its growth forecasts to 3.0 per cent in a budget update this week, down from 3.25 per cent forceast in May, also trimming its budget surplus predictions as demand slows in key market China and Europe struggles. AFP