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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Driven Up By Rebound in Energy Prices
by Tom Moeller  March 15, 2013

The consumer price index jumped 0.7% (2.0% y/y) during February following two months of having been unchanged. Expectations were for a 0.5% rise. Prices excluding food and energy matched expectations and rose 0.2% (2.0% y/y).

The overall increase in prices was driven by a 5.4% surge (2.3% y/y) in energy prices. The strength was led by a 9.1% jump (3.3% y/y) in gasoline prices (which have leveled off this month). Fuel oil prices also posted a strong 3.1% gain (2.3% y/y) while prices for natural gas rose 1.2% (1.3% y/y). Food price inflation offset some of this strength with a 0.1% uptick (1.6% y/y). This reflected a 0.4% gain (1.7% y/y) in prices of meats, poultry, fish and eggs which was offset by a 0.4% decline (+0.1% y/y) in dairy product costs.

Prices for goods less food and energy were unchanged (0.3% y/y) following a 0.2% recovery in January. Home appliance prices fell 0.9% (-1.0% y/y) and apparel prices slipped 0.1% (+2.4% y/y). New car & truck prices also were down 0.3% (+1.1% y/y). These declines were offset by a 0.4% gain (0.0% y/y) in furniture & bedding prices while recreational goods prices ticked up 0.1% (-2.0% y/y).

Core services prices were firmer and posted a 0.2% gain (2.6% y/y). A 0.3% rise (3.9% y/y) in medical care services matched a 0.3% rise (3.9% y/y) in tuition costs & fees. Shelter costs (32% of the CPI) again increased 0.2% (2.3% y/y). Owners equivalent rent of primary residences gained 0.2% (2.1% y/y). That's improved from the 0.3% annual rate of decline in mid-2010. Transportation services prices ticked up 0.1% (3.1% 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 (%) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total 0.7 0.0 0.0 2.0 2.1 3.1 1.6
Total less Food & Energy 0.2 0.3 0.1 2.0 2.1 1.7 1.0
  Goods less Food & Energy 0.0 0.2 -0.1 0.3 1.3 1.3 1.1
  Services less Energy 0.2 0.3 0.2 2.6 2.4 1.8 0.9
 Food 0.1 0.0 0.2 1.6 2.6 3.7 0.8
 Energy 5.4 -1.7 -0.8 2.3  1.0 15.2 9.6
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