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Economy in Brief

Consumer Prices Rose Moderately: Used Car Prices Firm
by Tom Moeller October 19, 2004

The Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) rose 0.2% last month. The gain matched Consensus forecasts, but the 0.3% rise in prices less food and energy exceeded the 0.2% expectation.

The CPI for "core" commodities rose for the first month in three, up 0.2%. The increase wholly reflected a rise in used motor vehicle prices. New vehicle prices fell 0.2% (-1.1% y/y). Household furnishings & operations prices were unchanged (-0.2% y/y) as were apparel prices (-0.7% y/y).

Services prices less energy rose a moderate 0.3%. Shelter prices, up 0.4% (3.0% y/y), health care services, up 0.3% (5.0% y/y), and education & communication prices, up 0.4% (1.7% y/y) all were relatively firm. Public transportation prices fell 1.1% (-2.8% y/y), the second consecutive down month.

Gasoline prices last month ticked up a modest 0.1% (+9.4% y/y) but in October have risen another 6.4% on average and were $2.04/gallon last week. Fuel oil prices were strong again with a 1.9% (23.9% y/y) rise. Natural gas prices fell 1.0% (+3.0% y/y) though they have recouped all of that decline in October.

The chained CPI, which adjusts for shifts in the mix of consumer purchases rose a firm 0.3%. It is similar to the PCE price deflator. The core chain price measure rose for the first time since April.

Consumer Price Index Sept Aug Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total  0.2% 0.1% 2.5% 2.3% 1.6% 2.8%
 Total less Food & Energy 0.3% 0.1% 2.0% 1.5% 2.3% 2.7%
  Goods less Food & Energy 0.2% -0.1% -0.5% -2.0% -1.1% 0.3%
  Services less Energy 0.3% 0.1% 3.0% 2.9% 3.8% 3.7%
 Energy -0.4% -0.3% 6.7% 12.2% -5.8% 3.7%
 Food 0.0% 0.1% 3.4% 2.1% 1.8% 3.1%
             
Chained CPI: Total (NSA) 0.3% 0.0% 2.1% 1.9% 1.3% 2.3%
 Total less Food & Energy 0.4% 0.0% 1.6% 1.1% 1.9%  2.0%
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