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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Remains Unchanged; Core Prices Firm
by Tom Moeller  February 19, 2016

The Consumer Price Index held steady during January (1.4% y/y) following an unrevised 0.1% dip during December. A 0.1% easing had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The CPI excluding food & energy increased 0.3% (2.2% y/y), the largest monthly increase since August 2011. A 0.1% rise had been expected.

A 2.8% decline (-6.5% y/y) in energy prices held back the overall CPI increase, the same as in December. Gasoline prices fell 4.8% (-7.3% y/y), repeating the December decline. Heating oil costs dropped 6.5% (NSA, -28.7% y/y). Electricity costs fell 0.7% (-2.4% y/y) and natural gas prices eased 0.6% (-12.7% y/y).

Food prices remained unchanged (0.8% y/y) following two months of slight decline. Meat prices fell 0.8% (-4.9% y/y) and dairy product prices eased 0.2% (-3.0% y/y). Cereal prices were off 0.2% (+0.4% y/y), but fruit & vegetable costs jumped 1.3% (2.7% y/y). Nonalcoholic beverage prices fell 0.2% (+0.1% y/y).

Services prices excluding energy firmed 0.3% (3.0% y/y), the strongest increase in nine months. Medical care services powered the rise with a 0.5% increase (3.3% y/y). Transportation services prices gained 0.4% (2.7% y/y) as the cost of public transportation jumped 0.7% (-0.1% y/y). Recreation services prices rose 0.3% (2.3% y/y) for a second month. Shelter prices gained 0.3% as primary residence rents also rose 0.3% (3.7% y/y). The owners equivalent rent of primary residences improved 0.2% (3.2% y/y). Tuition & other school fees remained unchanged (3.3% y/y).

Core goods prices increased 0.2% (-0.1% y/y) following eight months of slight decline. Apparel prices jumped 0.6% (-0.6% y/y), after four months of decline, andss medical care goods prices rose 0.4% (2.1% y/y). New vehicle prices increased 0.3% (0.6% y/y). Appliance prices rose 0.2% (-2.9% y/y) and furniture & bedding costs held steady (-0.3% y/y). Recreation goods prices were unchanged (-3.9% y/y) and education & communications product prices fell 1.3% (-3.9%).

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, All Urban Consumers (%) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total 0.0 -0.1 0.1 1.4 0.1 1.6 1.5
Total less Food & Energy 0.3 0.2 0.2 2.2 1.8 1.7 1.8
  Goods less Food & Energy 0.2 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.5 -0.3 -0.0
  Services less Energy 0.3 0.2 0.3 3.0 2.6 2.5 2.4
 Food 0.0 -0.2 -0.1 0.8 1.9 2.4 1.4
 Energy -2.8 -2.8 0.3 -6.5 -16.7 -0.3 -0.7
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