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Economy in Brief

U.S. Overall CPI Is Unchanged; Core Price Increase Is Stable
by Tom Moeller  May 15, 2012

Consumer prices were unchanged last month versus an expected 0.1% uptick. The figure lessened the y/y increase to 2.3%, down from its peak of 3.9% last September. Prices less food and energy increased a steady 0.2%, also as expected. However, the rise left the y/y gain at 2.3% which equaled its highest in September 2008.

Energy prices fell 1.7% (+0.9% y/y) as gasoline prices declined 2.6% (+3.2% y/y). Fuel oil costs declined a not seasonally adjusted 1.1% (+0.9% y/y) while gas & electricity prices slipped another 0.2% (-2.4% y/y).

Food prices again rose 0.2% (3.1% y/y) as prices of meats ticked up 0.1% (4.6% y/y). Elsewhere, cereals & bakery products costs rose a firm 0.4% (4.7% y/y) while fruits & vegetable prices jumped 1.0% (-1.7% y/y.

For goods alone, prices less food & energy again rose 0.2% last month and the 12-month increase of 2.0% was up from a 0.3% decline late in 2010. Apparel prices rose 0.4% and the 5.1% y/y gain was up versus the 0.5% decline in 2010. Furniture & bedding costs were unchanged (1.8% y/y) while appliance costs fell 0.6% (+3.7% y/y). New motor vehicle prices increased 0.8% (2.2% y/y).

The 0.3% increase in core service prices (2.4% y/y) reflected another 0.2% rise (2.2% y/y) in shelter costs (32% of the CPI). Owners equivalent rent of primary residences also rose 0.2% (2.1% y/y). The y/y increase compares to a low of -0.3% in early 2010. Education costs rose a stable 0.3% (4.2% y/y) and medical care service prices rose a quickened 0.4% (3.7% y/y). Public transportation prices jumped 1.6% (1.1% y/y) while recreation services prices ticked up 0.1% (3.0% y/y).

The consumer price data is available in Haver's USECON database while detailed figures can be found in CPIDATA. The expectations figure is from Action Economics and is found in the AS1REPNA database.

Consumer Price Index (%) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 0.0 0.3 0.4 2.3 3.1 1.6 -0.3
Total less Food & Energy 0.2 0.2 0.1 2.3 1.7 1.0 1.7
  Goods less Food & Energy 0.2 0.2 0.1 2.0 1.3 1.1 1.3
  Services less Energy 0.3 0.2 0.1 2.4 1.8 0.9 1.9
 Food 0.2 0.2 0.0 3.1 3.7 0.8 1.8
 Energy -1.7 0.9 3.2 0.9 15.2 9.6 -18.2
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