Inflation down to 1.2 percent in February

According to Statistics Netherlands’ consumer price index, inflation in the Netherlands fell further in February, to 1.2 percent. This is the lowest level since October 1995. The decease was mainly caused by lower prices for food and motor fuels.

Inflation according to the European harmonised index fell by 0.2 of a percent point, to 1.3 percent.

Prices in February slightly up on January

Prices rose by an average 0.5 percent from January to February. This increase was almost completely caused by higher prices for clothes and shores. Consumers had to pay substantially more for these items as the January sales came to an end and the spring and summer collections entered the shops.

Prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks fell by an average 0.3 percent from January. Fresh vegetables, potatoes and eggs in particular were all cheaper.

Although the excise on tobacco products went up on 1 February, smokers have not yet had to pay more for cigarettes, cigars and tobacco. Shops are still selling these products for the old prices.

Food and petrol dampen inflation

Food and non-alcoholic drinks were 1.2 percent cheaper than twelve months previously. In January the year-on-year decrease was 0.5 percent, so the significantly larger decrease in February pushed down inflation. Compared with twelve months ago, the prices of coffee, tea, mineral water and soft drinks in particular were substantially lower.

Car fuels cost on average just as much in February as in January. As there was a sharp increase in the price of car fuel from January to February last year, this too had a downward effect on inflation.

Consumers paid about the same for clothes and shoes in February as in the same month last year. In January these items were 3 percent cheaper than twelve months previously, and this pushed up inflation slightly.

Housing costs account for most of inflation

Costs connected with housing make up an increasing part of inflation. While price increases slowed down in many other categories, housing, water and energy cost on average 3.3 percent more than in February last year. This price increase accounted for 0.8 of a percent point of the total 1.2 percent inflation.

Rates of consumption-related taxes and public services rose by an average 4.9 percent compared with February 2003 and account for 0.2 of a percent point of inflation. These, too, are mainly housing related costs.

Inflation according to European norm also down

Dutch inflation calculated according to the European harmonised norm fell from 1.5 percent tin January to 1.3 percent in February. This is the lowest level since September 1998. Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, estimates inflation in the euro area at 1.6 percent in February.

Within the euro area, inflation was lowest in Finland (0.8 percent) in January. The Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Belgium all had lower than average inflation (1.9 percent) in January. Greece had the highest rate of inflation: 3.1 percent.

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