Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| May 15 2024

U.S. CPI Strength Diminishes in April; Core Pricing Pressures Ease

  • Transportation costs surge, while shelter prices increase steadily.
  • Goods price pressure weakens further.
  • Energy prices move higher but food prices hold steady.

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.3% during April following two consecutive 0.4% increases. A 0.4% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The 3.4% y/y rise compared to 3.5% in March, and was increased from a 3.1% January low. It remained below the peak 9.1% y/y increase in June of 2022. The three-month increase of 4.6% (AR) was steady with March and more than double the rise at the end of last year. As expected, prices excluding food & energy also rose 0.3% following three consecutive 0.4% monthly increases. It rose 3.6% y/y last month compared to 3.8% in March; however, during the last three months, core price inflation has accelerated to 4.1% (AR), off the 4.5% March high but higher than the 2.6% low during August of last year.

The CPI less food, energy and shelter, another measure of core pricing power, rose 0.2% after two consecutive 0.3% increases. The 2.1% y/y rise remained below the 7.6% y/y peak in February 2022.

Service costs less energy increased 0.4% in April (5.3% y/y) following two straight 0.5% increases. Transportation services costs strengthened 0.9% (11.2% y/y) following a 1.5% March jump. The cost of shelter rose 0.4% (5.5% y/y) for the fifth month in the last six as owners’ equivalent rent of primary residences increased 0.4% (5.7% y/y) for the third consecutive month. Rents of primary residences increased 0.4% (5.4% y/y) after a 0.4% gain. The cost of lodging away from home fell 0.2% (-0.3% y/y) after two months of 0.1% increase. Education & communication prices rose 0.2% (1.6% y/y) for a second straight month. Recreation services prices rose 0.3% (4.1% y/y) following a 0.1% uptick and medical care service costs rose 0.4% (2.7% y/y) after a 0.6% strengthening.

During April, the CPI for goods less food & energy dipped 0.1% (-1.3% y/y) after falling 0.2% in March. Education & communication goods costs rose 0.1% (-6.0% y/y) following a 1.2% drop in March. Prices for recreation products held steady (-2.2% y/y) after falling 0.5%. Home furnishings prices weakened 0.4% (-2.8% y/y) after a 0.1% slip, while appliance costs fell 0.9% (-5.6% y/y) after two straight months of decline. Apparel prices rose 1.2% (1.3% y/y) after rising 0.7% in March. New vehicle prices eased 0.4% both m/m and y/y after slipping 0.2% in March while used car & truck prices declined 1.4% (-6.9% y/y) after falling 1.1% in March.

Energy prices increased 1.1% (2.6% y/y) in April for a second consecutive month. These gains followed four months of decline. Gasoline prices rose 2.8% (1.2% y/y) after a 1.7% rise. Amongst other energy products, fuel oil prices rose 0.9% (-0.8% y/y) after declining 1.3% in March. Electricity prices slipped 0.1% (+5.1% y/y) after rising 0.9%, while natural gas prices declined 2.9% (-1.9% y/y) after holding steady in March.

Food prices held steady (+2.2% y/y) last month after rising 0.1% in March. Egg prices weakened 7.3% (-9.0% y/y) after five straight months of strong increase. Meat, poultry & fish prices eased 0.1% (+1.9% y/y) after rising 0.6% while cereal & bakery product prices rose 0.6% both m/m and y/y after declining 0.9% in March. Fruit & vegetable prices weakened 0.8% (+1.7% y/y) after edging 0.1% higher, while dairy prices edged up 0.1% (-1.3% y/y) and reversed the March fall. Nonalcoholic beverage prices fell 0.2% (+2.3% y/y) after a 0.3% gain.

The Consumer Price figures can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure is contained in the AS1REPNA database.

  • Prior to joining Haver Analytics in 2000, Mr. Moeller worked as the Economist at Chancellor Capital Management from 1985 to 1999. There, he developed comprehensive economic forecasts and interpreted economic data for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. Also at Chancellor, Mr. Moeller worked as an equity analyst and was responsible for researching and rating companies in the economically sensitive automobile and housing industries for investment in Chancellor’s equity portfolio.   Prior to joining Chancellor, Mr. Moeller was an Economist at Citibank from 1979 to 1984.   He also analyzed pricing behavior in the metals industry for the Council on Wage and Price Stability in Washington, D.C.   In 1999, Mr. Moeller received the award for most accurate forecast from the Forecasters' Club of New York. From 1990 to 1992 he was President of the New York Association for Business Economists.   Mr. Moeller earned an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University, where he graduated in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from George Washington University.

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