The 1.3% jump in June's consumer prices lifted annualized inflation to 8.9% in the first half of 2002, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Inflation in 2001 was 2.7%, the bureau noted.

The consumer price index has risen 6.2% this year, mainly because of the shekel's devaluation, which led forex-sensitive prices to surge. Certain monopolies, such as the electricity and water utilities, and public transport, also sharply raised prices.

Economists estimate that the July index will rise by 0.7%, lifted mainly by the monopolistic utilities. The rise will be partly offset by a drop in forex-sensitive prices, after the shekel rebounded.

Nessuah Zannex chief economist Shlomo Maoz estimates that consumer prices will rise by 0.5% in July. Bank Hapoalim estimates a more conservative 0.3%. Other economists believe that the CPI will drop in July.