Hard-pegged Hong Kong sees 4.3-pct inflation as US prices soar 4.6-pct in Jan 2008

HONG KONG, 2008 (AFP) – Higher food prices drove Hong Kong’s underlying inflation rate up to 4.3 percent year-on-year in January, official figures showed Friday. “Apart from the global food inflation, elevated energy prices, appreciation of the (Chinese yuan currency) and the weakening of the Hong Kong dollar would continue to pose upside risks to inflation,” he said. (22/02) The inflation rate was 3.2 percent year-on-year in January but a government rates concession for the first quarter of 2008 lowered the year-on-year rate of change in the consumer price index for January.

Netting out this one-off concession, the year-on-year increase was 4.3 percent, up from the corresponding 3.8 percent inflation rate in December 2007.

A government spokesman said the underlying consumer price inflation rose further in January mainly due to higher prices of food eaten both at home and in restaurants.

But the government rates concession had helped bring down the headline inflation.

Food prices rose 15.6 percent compared with January 2007. Pork prices surged 48.2 percent, beef rose 41.4 percent and canned meat climbed 34.7 percent.

Electricity, gas and