New Zealand's December inflation falls to 4.7 percent year-on-year

New Zealand's consumer price index (CPI) fell to 4.7 percent in December on a yearly basis, official data shows.

The inflation rate was on par with forecasts by most economists. It's the first time since September 2021 (4.9 percent) annual inflation has been below 5 percent.

Statistics NZ consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said while disinflation was continuing, the CPI remained "above the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's target range of 1 to 3 percent".

Quarterly inflation in December was 0.5 percent compared with September's 1.8 percent.

Prices were rising fastest in housing and household utilities - mainly driven by rent, construction and rates costs.

The next-largest contributor was higher food prices, driven by rising costs for ready-to-eat products.

Prices for ready-to-eat food increased 7.3 percent in the year to December following a 9.4 percent rise in the 12 months to September.

Costs for snacks also rose - rising by 9.7 percent annually after a 10.9 percent increase in the year to September.

"Alcoholic beverages and tobacco was the next-largest contributor, driven by rising prices for cigarettes and tobacco, and spirits and liqueurs," Stats NZ said.

Wednesday's inflation figures come just more than a month ahead of the Reserve Bank's (RBNZ) next monetary policy review on February 28.

The central bank has left the 5.5 percent official cash rate unchanged for its past five meetings, after tightening it 12 consecutive times before that.

New Zealand's economy came to a standstill in the second half of last year, surprising experts in the third quarter with -0.3 percent quarterly growth - driven by a slowdown in goods producing industries.

Aotearoa's gross domestic product for the year to September was 1.3 percent and the RBNZ projects it would remain flat at the start of 2024.

Earlier this week, economists from ASB predicted the CPI to fall to 4.7 percent. However, the bank noted there was "still plenty of uncertainty over the inflation outlook".