Inflation picks up steam in September

A leading private sector measure of inflation saw consumer prices gain momentum last month, sending the annual rate of inflation to its highest level in almost a year.

The TD Securities Melbourne Institute Inflation Gauge rose by 0.3 per cent in September, after a 0.1 per cent rise in August.

In the 12 months to September, the Inflation Gauge increased by 1.9 per cent, the highest annual rate since November 2014.

However, that was still below the Reserve Bank’s target range for inflation of 2 to 3 per cent.

Within the month, there was a 6.3 per cent jump in tobacco prices because of an excise increase, a 4.5 per cent rise in the cost of holiday travel and accommodation, and a 1.2 per cent increase in fruit and vegetable prices.

By contrast, petrol prices fell 5 per cent, the cost of newspapers, books and stationery slipped 4.2 per cent and clothing prices edged 0.7 per cent lower.

TD Securities’ chief Asia-Pacific macro strategist, Annette Beacher, said the weaker Australian dollar was making imported goods more expensive.

“We are seeing price pressures being passed on from the lower Australian dollar, but of comfort, we have seen domestic inflation moderate,” Ms Beacher said.

“So at the moment, it does tell you that yes, the weaker Australian dollar is boosting imported prices, but given that we have very, very benign domestic inflation, that will be of comfort to the RBA.”

Ms Beacher also said the September quarter had seen strong momentum in consumer prices after several months of stagnation.

She said data from the Inflation Gauge indicated there would likely be quite a jump in the official Consumer Price Index figures.

Those are due for release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the end of this month.

“We have a rise of 0.8 per cent for the quarter, and that means annual inflation of 1.8 per cent,” Ms Beacher said.

“Now that’s not very high, obviously, but the overall message from the September report is that the very, very weak inflation is behind us and we’re starting to see a turnaround.”

Despite that, Ms Beacher said the Reserve Bank was unlikely to be too worried about the rebound in consumer prices and the subsequent pressure that could put on inflation.

She said inflation was not expected to get much air time when the Reserve Bank board meets for its monthly policy setting discussion tomorrow.

“They’ll probably just say inflation remains within target, and probably have more of a discussion about what the US is up to with interest rates, how’s the China slow,” Ms Beacher said.

Source: ABC News