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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Price Inflation Remains Muted
by Tom Moeller  February 20, 2014

Consumer prices nudged 0.1% higher (1.6% y/y) during January following a 0.2% December rise. The increase matched consensus expectations in the Action Economics survey. Consumer prices excluding food and energy also gained 0.1% followed a like increase in December. The rise matched consensus expectations. Earlier figures were revised due to new seasonal factors.

A 0.6% rise (2.1% y/y) in energy prices provided modest of the upward pressure to last month's CPI. Fuel oil prices rose 6.8% (2.0% y/y) and natural gas costs increased 3.6% (4.9% y/y). Electricity prices also firmed 1.8% (4.4% y/y) but gasoline prices were off 1.0% (+0.1% y/y. Food price inflation remained tame and costs nudged 0.1% higher (1.1% y/y). Cereals & bakery product costs rose 0.5% (0.8% y/y) while dairy product prices also rose 0.5% (-0.4% y/y). Working the other way, fruit & vegetable costs dropped 0.3% (-0.6% y/y) and nonalcoholic beverage prices fell 0.2% (-1.5% y/y).

Consumer prices for goods less food and energy fell 0.1% (-0.3% y/y) as appliance prices slipped marginally (-4.0% y/y) and apparel prices declined 0.3% (-0.2% y/y). New vehicle prices also were off 0.3% last month (0.0% y/y) and educational books & supplies prices fell 1.9% (+2.5% y/y). Offsetting this weakness was a 0.5% rise (0.8% y/y) in medical care commodity prices.

Core services prices increased 0.2% (2.3% y/y). Shelter costs (32% of the CPI) gained 0.3% (2.6% y/y) as owners equivalent rent of primary residences rose 0.2% (2.5% y/y). Recreation services prices gained 0.4% (2.0% y/y) and medical care services prices rose 0.2% (2.5% y/y). Tuition prices were unchanged (3.0% y/y). To the downside, public transportation prices were off 1.4% (-2.4% y/y).

The minutes of the latest FOMC meeting can be found here.

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 (%) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total 0.1 0.2 0.1 1.6 1.5 2.1 3.2
Total less Food & Energy 0.1 0.1 0.2 1.6 1.8 2.1 1.7
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.1 0.0 0.0 -0.3 -0.0 1.3 1.3
  Services less Energy 0.2 0.1 0.3 2.3 2.4 2.4 1.8
 Food 0.1 0.0 0.1 1.1 1.4 2.6 3.7
 Energy 0.6 1.6 -0.4 2.1 -0.7 0.9 15.2
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