Israel's consumer price index rose 0.9 percent in April, the highest single monthly increase since May 2000, fuelled by seasonal rises in clothing and fresh food prices, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday, May 15.
It was the second straight rise for the CPI, which fell in five out of the last seven months, and was at the high end of economists' expectations of a 0.6 to 0.9 percent increase.
"It is all due to seasonal effects," deputy director at the statistics bureau, Yoel Finkel, told reporters about the April rise. "I don't think it's a major change." Over the past 12 months, the CPI has risen 1.2 percent and is up 0.4 percent since the beginning of this year.
The CPI showed zero change in 2000 after a 1.3 percent rise in 1999. Although the government has set a 2.5-3.5 percent inflation target in 2001, most analysts believe the CPI will end the year no higher than 2.0 percent.
The CPI typically rises sharply in April with the start of a new retail season and with heavier buying close to the Jewish holiday of Passover. A 6.1 percent rise in fruit and vegetable prices, along with a 4.5 percent increase in clothing prices, influenced the CPI the most in April, Finkel said. The "core" rate, CPI excluding fruits and vegetables, rose 0.7 percent in April.
Finkel noted that travel costs within Israel and abroad also gave a lift to the CPI as Israelis took vacations during the holiday season. Overall travel and tourism prices rose 1.6 percent, also influenced by a 2.9 percent rise in automobile insurance costs, which saw a price hike beginning on April 1.
Dollar-linked housing prices, usually a main component in the price index, had a minimal effect with a 0.2 percent rise in April as the US currency was barely changed against the shekel during the month. But compared with April 2000, the heavily weighted component rose 4.8 percent. ― (Reuters, Jerusalem)
By Steven Scheer
© Reuters 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)