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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Prices Are Roughly Unchanged M/M And Slow Y/Y
by Tom Moeller  January 16, 2013

The December consumer price index matched expectations and was roughly unchanged following a 0.3% November decline. During the last twelve months prices rose 1.7%, roughly half the 2011 twelve month increase. Prices in December excluding food and energy again ticked higher by 0.1%. That increase was half the expected rise. It pulled the y/y advance down to 1.9% compared to a 2.2% rise in 2011.

Energy prices again were weak last month and fell 1.2% (+0.5% y/y). The drop owed to a 2.3% fall (+1.7% y/y) in gasoline prices though fuel oil prices were unchanged (+3.6% y/y). Natural gas costs jumped 1.3% (-2.9% y/y) while electricity prices ticked up 0.2% (-0.5% y/y). Food prices rose 0.2% (1.8% y/y) for the third straight month. That reflected a 0.6% rise (1.7% y/y) in fruit & vegetables but no change (1.4% y/y) in meats, poultry, fish and eggs.

Moderate growth in demand fostered a 0.2% decline (+0.3% y/y) in goods prices less food and energy. The y/y increase compares to a 2.2% rise at the end of 2002. Furniture & bedding prices fell 0.4% y/y but appliance prices costs rose 1.9% y/y. Apparel prices rose 1.8% y/y and that compared to a 5.1% y/y rate of increase early last year. New vehicle prices rose 1.6% y/y, half the rate of gain at the end of 20011. Recreational goods prices fell 2.0% last year after a 1.2% fall during 2011. Prices of educational books and supplies jumped 7.0% y/y adding to a 5.2% twelve month rise in 2011.  

Core service prices increased another 0.2% and the y/y gain was roughly stable at 2.4%. Shelter costs (32% of the CPI) increased 0.1% (2.2% y/y) as did owners equivalent rent of primary residences (2.1% y/y). This y/y increase compares to a low of -0.3% in early 2010. Public transportation costs jumped 1.0% (2.4% y/y) following a 3.8% gain in 2011 and a 4.8% rise in 2010. Tuition costs rose a strong 3.6% y/y but the increase has been decelerating since the 13.3% jump in 1982. Recreation services prices increased 2.6% y/y, about the same as during 2011.

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(%) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total -0.0 -0.3 0.1 1.7 2.1 3.1 1.6
Total less Food & Energy 0.1 0.1 0.2 1.9 2.1 1.7 1.0
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.2 -0.1 -0.1 0.3 1.3 1.3 1.1
  Services less Energy 0.2 0.2 0.3 2.4 2.4 1.8 0.9
 Food 0.2 0.2 0.2 1.8 2.6 3.7 0.8
 Energy -1.2 -4.1 -0.2 0.5 1.0 15.2 9.6
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