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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Remains Unchanged; Core Prices Increase Steadily
by Tom Moeller  December 15, 2015

The Consumer Price Index was unchanged (0.5% y/y) during November following a 0.2% October rise. Prices excluding food & energy increased 0.2% (2.0% y/y) for the third consecutive month. Both the total and core price figures matched expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

A 0.3% increase (2.9% y/y) in core services prices repeated the prior two months' gain. The increase in medical care prices eased to 0.4% (3.1% y/y). The rise was half the prior month's but the y/y increase of 3.1% was its swiftest since September 2013. Shelter prices rose 0.2% (3.2% y/y) after two months of 0.3% increase as owners equivalent rent of primary residences increased a steady 0.2%. The 3.1% y/y increase compared to little change in 2010. Rents of primary residences gained just 0.2%, but here again the y/y rise was a strong 3.6%. Public transportation services prices increased 0.5% (-1.8% y/y) and recreation services costs remained unchanged; the 2.4% y/y rise was double that of a year ago.

Energy prices declined 1.3% (-14.7% y/y) led by a 2.4% drop (-24.1% y/y) in gasoline prices. Natural gas costs were off 1.9% (-11.7% y/y) and fuel oil prices fell 1.3% (NSA), down roughly one-third y/y. Electricity costs increased 0.3% (-0.2% y/y).

Goods prices excluding food & energy eased 0.2% (-0.6% y/y), off for the sixth month in the last seven. Appliance prices fell 1.3% (-4.2% y/y), also down for the sixth month in the last seven. Home furnishings costs were off 0.5% NSA (-1.4% y/y). Recreation goods prices declined 0.6% (-2.6% y/y) and apparel costs fell 0.3% (-1.5% y/y). Offsetting these declines, new vehicle prices ticked up 0.1% (0.2% y/y) and medical care commodity prices gained 0.3% (2.5% y/y), the strongest change in three months. Education books and supplies prices jumped 0.6% (4.6% y/y).

Food prices eased 0.1% (1.3% y/y), falling for the first time since April. Egg prices declined 3.8% (+23.7% y/y), down for the third straight month. Meat prices were off 0.6% (-2.1% y/y) and cereal prices fell 1.2% (+0.1% y/y), reversing the prior month's increase. Nonalcoholic beverage prices declined 0.5% and were unchanged y/y. To the upside for the fifth straight month were fruit & vegetable prices, up 0.6% (1.4% 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.

Why Ask? The Role of Asking Prices in Transactions from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers (%) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total 0.0 0.2 -0.2 0.5 1.6 1.5 2.1
Total less Food & Energy 0.2 0.2 0.2 2.0 1.7 1.8 2.1
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.2 -0.1 0.0 -0.6 -0.3 -0.0 1.3
  Services less Energy 0.3 0.3 0.3 2.9 2.5 2.4 2.4
 Food -0.1 0.1 0.4 1.3 2.4 1.4 2.6
 Energy -1.3 0.3 -4.7 -14.7 -0.3 -0.7 0.9
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