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Australia floods to push up prices

AUSTRALIA: Australian inflation moderated to its lowest level in a decade, data showed Tuesday, but Treasurer Wayne Swan said prices would surge as record flooding squeezes consumers at the checkout.

The Consumer Price Index grew 0.4 percent in October-December compared with the previous quarter and 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier - both figures much lower than the 0.7 percent and 3.0 expected by economists.

Swan said underlying inflation - now at 2.2 percent - was at its lowest in 10 years, with weather-related price hikes in fruit and vegetables offset by the country's ailing retail sector.

But the Treasurer warned that ruinous flooding across vast parts of Queensland and Victoria states - key farming regions - would cause prices to jump.

"Despite the fact that these figures are lower than anticipated we do know that the next quarter figure, the March quarter, will see a spike, particularly in vegetable and fruit prices," Swan told reporters.

"The impact of these disastrous floods in Queensland through January will be felt by Australian families at the checkout."

Swan said fruit and vegetables, among chief inflationary pressures in the December quarter, had already appreciated due to the bad weather which preceded the deluge, but he flagged a major price spike, with crops such as beetroot and sweet potato decimated. Sydney, Tuesday, AFP

 

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