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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Strengthened by Energy Prices; Core Prices Pick Up
by Tom Moeller  May 17, 2016

The Consumer Price Index strengthened 0.4% (1.1% y/y) during April following an unrevised 0.1% March rise. It was the largest increase since February 2013. The gain matched expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. A 3.4% increase (-8.7% y/y) in energy pries bolstered last month's increase. Food prices also improved 0.2% (0.9% y/y). The CPI excluding both food & energy matched expectations and increased 0.2% (2.1% y/y) after a 0.1% rise.

The increase in energy prices was the largest rise also since February 2013. It was driven by an 8.1% jump (-13.8% y/y) in gasoline prices. Fuel oil prices also rose 1.9% (NSA, -27.5% y/y). Natural gas prices increased 0.6% (-6.5% y/y), but electricity costs fell 0.3% (-2.1% y/y).

Food prices improved 0.2% (0.9% y/y) as cereal & bakery product prices gained 0.3% (0.2% y/y). Meat poultry & fish product prices ticked 0.1% higher, but fruit & vegetable prices declined 0.5% (+2.1% y/y).

Prices for services other than energy increased 0.3% (3.0% y/y) following a 0.2% rise. Recreation services prices rose 0.4% (3.2% y/y) Transportation services prices strengthened 0.7% (3.3% y/y as motor vehicle insurance costs spiked 1.2% (6.0% y/y). Shelter prices gained 0.3% (3.2% y/y) as the owners' equivalent rent of primary residences rose 0.3% (3.1% y/y). Medical care service prices also improved 0.3% (3.1% y/y). The cost of tuition, school fees & childcare care increased 0.2% (3.0% y/y).

Goods prices excluding food & energy eased 0.1% (-0.5% y/y), down for a second straight month. Household furnishings & supplies prices fell 0.4% (-2.0% y/y). Apparel prices were off 0.3% (-0.6% y/y) as were new vehicles prices (0.0% y/y). Medical care commodity prices increased 0.5% (2.7% y/y). Recreation goods prices rose 0.2% (-2.6% y/y), moderated by a 1.3% decline (-8.8% y/y) in video & audio product costs.

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 (%) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total 0.4 0.1 -0.2 1.1 0.1 1.6 1.5
Total less Food & Energy 0.2 0.1 0.3 2.1 1.8 1.7 1.8
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.1 -0.2 0.3 -0.5 -0.5 -0.3 -0.0
  Services less Energy 0.3 0.2 0.3 3.0 2.6 2.5 2.4
 Food 0.2 -0.2 0.2 0.9 1.9 2.4 1.4
 Energy 3.4 0.9 -6.0 -8.7 -16.7 -0.3 -0.7
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