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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Ticks Higher But Food Prices Slip
by Tom Moeller  June 18, 2013

The cost of living remains under control. The consumer price index edged up a minimal 0.1% in May (1.4% y/y), the first positive change in three months. Expectations were for a 0.2% increase. Prices excluding food and energy gained 0.2% (1.7% y/y), also the firmest increase in three months and it matched expectations.

Holding back last month's CPI gain was a 0.1% slip (+1.4% y/y) in food prices. It was the first monthly decline since 2009 and reflected widespread price weakness. Dairy product prices fell 0.8% (+0.1% y/y), cereal & bakery product prices declined 0.4% (+0.9% y/y) while meat prices were unchanged (+0.6% y/y). These weak readings were offset by a 3.6% jump (6.3% y/y) in egg prices and a 0.4% gain (2.2% y/y) in fruit & vegetable costs. 

A 0.4% rise  (-0.8% y/y) in energy prices was the first increase in three months. It was led by a 2.4% gain (14.2% y/y) in natural gas costs and a 0.8% rise (1.7% y/y) in electricity prices. Gasoline costs were unchanged (-4.1% y/y) but fuel oil prices fell 2.9% (-5.8% y/y). 

Prices for goods less food and energy were unchanged (-0.2% y/y), as they have been for the last four months. Furniture & bedding costs slipped 0.1% (-0.8% y/y) while home appliance prices declined 0.6% (-1.8% y/y). Medical care goods prices were 0.5% lower, unchanged y/y, and new car & truck costs were stable (1.1% y/y). Recreation goods prices gained 0.2% (-1.3% y/y) and apparel costs also rose 0.2% (0.2% y/y), the first increase in four months.

Core services prices were up 0.2% (2.3% y/y). Public transportation costs recovered 1.4% (3.3% y/y) following April's decline, while recreation service prices gained 0.3% (2.0% y/y). Tuition costs rose 0.3% (3.8% y/y) and medical care services prices were unchanged (2.9% y/y). Shelter costs (32% of the CPI) rose 0.3% (2.3% y/y) while owners equivalent rent of primary residences increased 0.2% (2.1% 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 (%) May Apr Mar May Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total 0.1 -0.4 -0.2 1.4 2.1 3.1 1.6
Total less Food & Energy 0.2 0.1 0.1 1.7 2.1 1.7 1.0
  Goods less Food & Energy 0.0 0.0 -0.1 -0.2 1.3 1.3 1.1
  Services less Energy 0.2 0.1 0.2 2.3 2.4 1.8 0.9
 Food -0.1 0.2 0.0 1.4 2.6 3.7 0.8
 Energy 0.4 -4.3 -2.6 -0.8 0.9 15.2 9.6
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