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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Price Index & Core Prices Resume Increase
by Tom Moeller  December 10, 2020

• Retail price inflation remains under control.

• Goods prices continue to firm y/y.

• Service price inflation is decelerating.

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% (1.2% y/y) during November following no change in October. A 0.1% improvement had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The CPI excluding food & energy also rose 0.2% (1.6% y/y) last month, also after stability in October. A 0.1% gain had been expected.

Goods prices excluding food & energy edged 0.1% higher (1.4% y/y) after a 0.2% October decline and increases between 0.7% and 1.0% during the prior three months. The 1.4% y/y increase compares to y/y price declines from January through July. Home appliance prices jumped 2.2% last month and the 6.1% y/y gain was improved from -2.1% y/y in January. The cost of household furnishings strengthened 0.9% (2.9% y/y) following two straight months of decline. Apparel prices also firmed 0.9% but fell 5.2% y/y. Prices for education & communication goods increased 0.4% (-4.3% y/y) following two months of negative readings. Recreation goods prices rose 0.3% (-1.0% y/y) following two straight months of decline. To the downside, used car & truck prices fell 1.3% (+10.9% y/y) and new vehicle costs dipped 0.1% (+1.6% y/y). Medical care product costs fell 0.3% (-1.1% y/y) after weakening during the prior four months. That compared to a 2.5% increase during all of last year.

Services prices rose 0.2% (1.7% y/y) last month after improving 0.1% in October. Education & communication prices held steady but strengthened 2.4% y/y. Tuition costs rose 0.2% (1.3% y/y). Medical care service prices eased 0.1% and the 3.2% y/y rise compared to 6.0% y/y as of June. Shelter costs rose 0.1% and by a greatly lessened 1.9% y/y. The owners' equivalent rent of primary residences held steady and gained 2.3% y/y. To the upside, recreation services prices strengthened 0.5% (2.6% y/y) following a 0.7% strengthening. The cost of public transportation jumped 2.5%, strong for the third straight month, but fell 12.0% y/y.

Energy product prices moved 0.4% higher (-9.4% y/y) following a 0.1% improvement. The cost of natural gas surged 3.1% (4.4% y/y), strong for the second month in the last three. Fuel oil prices strengthened 3.6% (-26.4% y/y). Electricity prices rose 0.5% (1.6% y/y) following two months of strong increase while gasoline prices slipped 0.4% (-19.3% y/y) after falling 0.5%.

Food prices eased 0.1% and by a strengthened 3.7% y/y. Food-at-home prices eased 0.3% (+3.6% y/y). The decline reflected a 0.5% drop (+2.4% y/y) in cereal & bakery product prices. A 1.0% rise (4.3% y/y) in egg prices countered the weakness. Meat, poultry & fish prices edged 0.1% higher (6.0% y/y). Fruit & vegetable prices held steady (3.0% y/y). Dairy & dairy product prices rose 0.3% (3.6 y/y), up from a 2.4% rise last year. Nonalcoholic beverage prices declined 0.9% (+3.0% y/y). Prices of food away from home rose 0.1% (NSA) and by a strengthened 3.8% y/y.

The Consumer Price Index data can be found in Haver's USECON database with additional detail in CPIDATA. The Action Economics survey figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers (% chg) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total 0.2 0.0 0.2 1.2 1.8 2.4 2.1
Total less Food & Energy 0.2 0.0 0.2 1.6 2.2 2.1 1.8
  Goods less Food & Energy 0.1 -0.2 0.8 1.4 0.2 -0.2 -0.7
  Services less Energy 0.2 0.1 0.0 1.7 2.8 2.9 2.7
 Food -0.1 0.2 0.0 3.7 1.9 1.4 0.9
 Energy 0.4 0.1 0.8 -9.4 -2.1 7.5 7.9
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