THE rise in consumer prices slowed again last month, putting the annual rate of inflation firmly in line with the officially revised targets. But while the two most widely used Consumer Price Indices, (A) and (B), were falling once more, the Hang Seng CPI, which measures higher levels of expenditure, continued to rise. With New Year wage negotiations under way, employers will have been relieved to see a slowing in the rate of the rise in the cost of living. Both the CPI (A), which measures households with a spending range of between $2,500 and $9,999 a month, and CPI (B), which applies to expenditure levels of up to $17,499, rose by 8.4 per cent in November. This was a welcome reduction from the 9 per cent seen in the CPI (A) in October, and the 8.7 per cent recorded for the CPI (B). But the Hang Seng CPI rose from 9.4 per cent in October, to 9.5 per cent - continuing a rising trend in households where expenditure levels reach up to $37,499. Last month's relaxation in price rises followed a return to more normal food prices during the month. In October, the aftermath of Typhoon Dot had severely disrupted food deliveries, forcing prices up, and pulling the CPI (A) up from 7.9 per cent and theCPI (B) up from 8.1 per cent. The year-on-year cost of feeding the family at home went up by 3.2 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively last month, but this was a big improvement on the previous month's jumps of more than 10 per cent. However, the costs of housing continued to climb steeply, and over 12 months increased by 10.9 per cent in the CPI (A), and 10.7 per cent in the CPI (B). Among the higher paid, who are more exposed to private rents and the scarcity of good-quality rented accommodation, housing inflation continued to gallop along at 13.2 per cent, although this was marginally lower than the 13.6 per cent in October. Food prices at the Hang Seng level of consumption were almost double those of the CPI readings and showed a 6.7 per cent gain year on year, but restaurant meals showed a marginal easing of 0.3 per cent. With the cost of jumping into a taxi having been forced up in the middle of last month, the transport portion of the Hang Seng CPI shot up by 1.3 per cent. With no extraordinary events apparently in sight to push up the overall rate of price increases, the Government's target of nine per cent inflation this year, which was revised down from 9.5 per cent in July, now looks easily achievable. The average over 11 months has been 8.5 per cent in the CPI (A), so a major fall from last year's 12 per cent is now assured.