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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Falls As Energy Prices Move Lower
by Tom Moeller  April 16, 2013

The consumer price index fell 0.2% (+1.5% y/y) during March and partially reversed February's 0.7% rise. Expectations were for no change in the index. Prices excluding food and energy ticked up 0.1% (1.9% y/y), weaker than the expected 0.2% rise.

The CPI's decline reflected a 2.6% drop (-1.6% y/y) in energy prices. The drop was led by a 4.4% shortfall (-3.4% y/y) in gasoline prices. Fuel oil prices also were off 2.1% (-2.4% y/y) but prices for natural gas rose 1.0% (1.8% y/y). Food prices were unchanged (1.5% y/y). Cereals & bakery product prices rose 0.2% (0.9% y/y) while  prices of meats, poultry, fish and eggs remained unchanged (1.2% y/y). Dairy product costs fell 0.6% (-0.5% y/y).

Prices for goods less food and energy ticked 0.1% higher (1.9% y/y). Furniture & bedding costs rose 0.3% (-0.6% y/y) but that was offset by a 0.3% drop (-1.2% y/y) in home appliance prices. Apparel prices were off 1.0% (+0.8% y/y) and new car & truck costs were unchanged (1.1% y/y). Medical care goods prices rose 0.1% (0.6% y/y) while recreational goods prices were roughly unchanged (-1.9% y/y).

Core services prices again rose a firmer 0.2% (2.5% y/y). A 1.1% rise (4.0% y/y) in public transportation services was accompanied by a 0.3% gain (3.9% y/y) in medical care services prices. Tuition costs & fees also increased 0.3% (3.9% y/y) while shelter costs (32% of the CPI) again rose 0.2% (2.2% y/y). Owners equivalent rent of primary residences ticked up 0.1% (2.1% y/y). Recreational services prices slipped 0.1% (+2.2% 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 (%) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total -0.2 0.7 0.0 1.5 2.1 3.1 1.6
Total less Food & Energy 0.1 0.2 0.3 1.9 2.1 1.7 1.0
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.1 -0.0 0.2 0.1 1.3 1.3 1.1
  Services less Energy 0.2 0.2 0.3 2.5 2.4 1.8 0.9
 Food 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.5 2.6 3.7 0.8
 Energy -2.6 5.4 -1.7 -1.6 1.0 15.2 9.6
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