Living cost data shows a mixed bag for consumers

The latest Consumer Price Index of everyday living costs has revealed a mixed bag for Australian consumers in recent months.

Compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the September quarter 2010, the index found that there were various price rises during the quarter, with tobacco up seven per cent, for example.

In addition, water and sewerage costs rose 12.8 per cent, electricity bills were up six per cent and rents increased by 1.1 per cent.

However, the index also showed that various other everyday costs fell during the three-month period, with the price of automotive fuel down 3.7 per cent, vegetables 5.4 per cent cheaper and pharmaceutical costs down 3.9 per cent.

Commenting on the index, Commsec economist Craig James said it would make it difficult for the Reserve Bank to justify a rate hike next week.

Consumers aiming to save money and better manage their finances could choose to compare debit cards in search of the best options. According to Mr James, consumers are conservative at present and are refusing to spend unless goods are on special offer.

"As long as consumers remain conservative and businesses have to shave margins to move stock then inflation will remain low as will interest rates," he said in a note received by

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