By Mark Mulligan, 23 July 2015

Headline inflation jumped from 0.2 to 0.7 per cent in the June quarter, as the biggest three-month surge in petrol prices in 25 years help push up the cost of a basket of goods.

However, core inflation, after stripping out items whose prices move around a lot – such as fuel and food – fell slightly.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday the rise in the consumer price index (CPI) for the three months to the end of June took the annual rate to 1.5 per cent, following inflation of 1.3 per cent in the March quarter.

Petrol prices.Petrol prices.

Most of the difference came from a more than 12 per cent increase in the cost of petrol, after savings passed on to consumers from the falling oil price were reversed as it rose again and the Australian dollar fell.

The headline and core rates were slightly less than expected and the Australian dollar nudged up about 0.2 per cent, to US74.32¢, before falling back to US74¢.

Slow price growth means the Reserve Bank of Australia is free to cut the cash rate again without risking a sudden spike in inflation.

After lopping off extreme price movements, core inflation was slightly lower at 0.6 per cent for the quarter and 2.2 per cent year-on-year.

The weighted median of prices slipped to 0.5 per cent from a revised 0.8 per cent in the March quarter. Year on year, it was 2.4 per cent, compared with a revised 2.5 per cent.

“The most significant price rises this quarter were in automotive fuel – up 12.2 per cent – medical and hospital services, which rose 4.5 per cent, and new dwelling purchases by owner–occupiers, up 1.5 per cent,” the ABS said.

“These rises were partially offset by falls in domestic holiday travel and accommodation – down 5.4 per cent – and pharmaceutical products, down 1.8 per cent.

“The increase in fuel is registered in four of the five fuel types, with the quarterly rise the largest since December 1990,” the ABS said.

It said a 5.4 per cent drop in the price of domestic holidays – typical in the off-peak months after Easter – had helped stem CPI growth, although prices were still up 0.9 per cent over the year.

A 4.5 per cent surge in the price of medical and hospital services was attributed largely to an increase in private health insurance premiums after April 1. This was partially offset by cheaper pharmaceuticals.

There was also a 1.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise in the price of clothing and footwear, mainly as a result of seasonal factors and the weaker Australian dollar.

Extracted in full from the Sydney Morning Herald.