Sat, Jan 21, 2012 - Page 11 News List

HK’s consumer prices rise 5.7% on food and rents

Bloomberg

Hong Kong’s consumer prices rose 5.7 percent last month from a year earlier on food and rental costs, exceeding analysts’ estimates.

The increase matched November’s rate and was more than the median 5.6 percent estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 12 economists. Excluding distortions from temporary government subsidies, the rate was 6.4 percent, unchanged from the previous month’s record.

Accounting firms including KPMG Tax Ltd and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd expect Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang (曾俊華) to dole out power subsidies and property-rate waivers in the budget next month, echoing previous relief measures. In March last year, the government announced a HK$60.7 billion (US$7.8 billion) relief package, including HK$6,000 cash subsidies for 6.1 million permanent residents.

“The underlying rate remains elevated — we expect the government to offer a similar package of relief measures,” Raymond Yeung (楊宇霆), an economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd in Hong Kong, said before yesterday’s report.

Yeung sees inflation easing to 3.4 percent this year from 5.2 percent last year.

Average private home rents increased 3.7 percent in the three months ending last month from a year earlier, Centaline Property Agency Ltd (中原地產), the territory’s biggest closely held property broker, said on Thursday, citing a survey of 85 major residential estates.

The territory’s electricity suppliers both raised tariffs this year. CLP Holdings Ltd (中電控股) increased fees by 4.9 percent, and Hongkong Electric Co (香港電燈) is boosting charges by less than 5 percent for most households.

Hong Kong stocks advanced yesterday, with the Hang Seng Index posting its biggest weekly gain since the start of last month.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.8 percent to 20,110.37 at the close of trading. For the week, the gauge advanced 4.7 percent, its biggest gain since the five-day period ended Dec. 2.

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