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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Prices Post Another Strong Increase
by Tom Moeller  October 16, 2012

Consumer prices posted a second consecutive 0.6% rise during September. The gain was roughly in line with expectations for a 0.5% rise. Despite this strength, prices excluding food & energy continued rising just 0.1% (2.0% y/y) for the third consecutive month.

Higher energy prices were again the source of last month's strength posting a 4.5% (2.3% y/y) rise. Gasoline prices jumped another 7.0% (6.8% y/y) after a 9.0% August increase. Fuel oil prices also posted a strong 4.1% (4.0% y/y) rise along with natural gas costs which rose 2.0% (-10.7% y/y). Electricity costs rose a modest 0.2% (-1.5% y/y) for the second consecutive month.Food prices remained very well behaved and inched up just 0.1% (1.6% y/y). Dairy product prices provided much of the lift with a 0.4% rise (-1.9% y/y). Working the other way, meats prices fell 0.8% (+1.6% y/y) along with fruit & vegetable costs which moved 0.4% lower (-1.7% y/y).

For goods alone, prices excluding food & energy fell 0.2% (+0.7% y/y) for the second consecutive month. The decline mostly reflected a 1.4% decline (-1.6% y/y) in used car prices and a 0.1% dip (+1.0% y/y) in new vehicle costs. Working higher were apparel prices which rose 0.3%. The 2.7% y/y gain contrasted with the 0.5% decline in 2010. Household furniture costs fell 0.3% (-0.2% y/y) but appliance prices rose 0.2% (0.5% y/y).

The improved 0.3% increase (2.5% y/y) in core service prices reflected another 0.2% rise (2.2% y/y) in shelter costs (32% of the CPI). Owners equivalent rent of primary residences rose 0.2% (2.1% y/y). The y/y increase compares to a low of -0.3% in early 2010. Public transportation prices rose 1.3% (-0.9% y/y) while medical care service prices increased 0.4% (4.4% y/y). Education costs rose 0.3% (3.6% y/y) while recreation services prices ticked up 0.1% (3.4% 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(%) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 0.6 0.6 0.0 2.0 3.1 1.6 -0.3
Total less Food & Energy 0.1 0.1 0.1 2.0 1.7 1.0 1.7
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.2 -0.2 0.0 0.7 1.3 1.1 1.3
  Services less Energy 0.3 0.1 0.1 2.5 1.8 0.9 1.9
 Food 0.1 0.2 0.1 1.6 3.7 0.8 1.8
 Energy 4.5 5.6 -0.3 2.3 15.2 9.6 -18.2
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