Sharp declines in food prices dragged the consumer price index (CPI) for Hanoi in April down for the first time in 24 months, the Hanoi Statistics Office has said.

The index this month eased 0.03 percent from last month's figure, although it increased 9.52 percent over the same period last year.

Prices of cereal products decreased 1.98 percent over March, with rice prices falling sharply thanks to abundant supplies, as provinces in the Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta region had reaped a bumper autumn-winter crop.

While prices of beef, fish and seafood remained stable, declines in pork prices caused food prices to fall significantly 0.79 percent over last month.

In April, eight groups of commodities saw marginal increases, while three groups declined: restaurants and catering services dropped 0.65 percent; post and telecommunications fell by 0.04 percent; and housing, electricity, water, fuel and building materials were down 0.64 percent.

The decline in cooking gas, down about 6,000 VND (28 US cents) from the beginning of this month, were largely responsible for price cuts in the third area.-VNA