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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Increases Modestly; Core Up Minimally
by Tom Moeller  May 12, 2017

The Consumer Price Index gained 0.2% during April following a 0.3% March decline. The 2.2% y/y increase was down from February's y/y rise of 2.7%. The monthly increase  matched expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Consumer prices excluding food & energy ticked 0.1% higher after a 0.1% fall. A 0.2% increase had been anticipated. The y/y gain in core pricing power declined to 1.9%, its weakest annual rate of increase since October 2015.

Prices for goods excluding food & energy declined 0.2% (-0.6% y/y), down for the third straight month. Medical care goods prices fell 0.8% (+2.6% y/y) following a 0.2% rise. Appliance prices declined 0.5% (-2.8% y/y) after a 0.5% increase. Recreation goods costs also fell 0.5% (-3.6% y/y) while apparel prices eased 0.3% (+0.5% y/y) after a 0.7% decline. Prices for household furnishings & supplies fell 0.3% (-1.4% y/y), down for the third straight month. New vehicle prices edged 0.2% lower (+0.4% y/y), also the third consecutive monthly decline.

Services prices less energy ticked 0.1% higher (2.7% y/y) and reversed the March easing. Shelter costs rose 0.3% (3.5% y/y) following a 0.1% uptick. Rent costs gained 0.3% (3.5% y/y) and the owners' equivalent rent of shelter prices rose 0.2% (3.4% y/y), the same as during the prior month. Recreation services prices held steady (3.2% y/y) after three months of increase and medical care services prices also were unchanged (3.1% y/y) following a 0.1% uptick. Transportation services prices eased 0.2% (+3.1% y/y) following a 0.4% rise. Education & communication services prices also were off 0.2% (-2.4% y/y) after 1.9% drop.

Prices for energy products gained 1.1% (9.3% y/y) following two months of decline. Gasoline prices increased 1.2% (14.3% y/y) after falling for two months. Fuel oil prices rose 3.8% (16.4% y/y) after two months of decline. Natural gas prices jumped 2.2% (12.0% y/y) and electricity costs rose 0.6% (2.4% y/y).

Food & beverage prices gained 0.2% (0.5% y/y) following a 0.3% rise. Fruit & vegetable prices jumped 2.2% (0.7% y/y) after a 1.6% increase. Prices for eggs rose 1.6% (-15.8% y/y) following two months of decline. Meat, poultry & fish costs declined 0.7% (-2.1% y/y) after two months of 0.5% rise. Cereal & bakery product costs fell 0.3% (-0.8% y/y) and reversed the March increase. Dairy product prices eased 0.2% (-0.2% y/y) following a 0.6% rise.

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 AS\1REPNA database.

Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers (%) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total 0.2 -0.3 0.1 2.2 1.3 0.1 1.6
Total less Food & Energy 0.1 -0.1 0.2 1.9 2.2 1.8 1.7
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.2 -0.3 -0.0 -0.6 -0.5 -0.5 -0.3
  Services less Energy 0.1 -0.1 0.3 2.7 3.1 2.6 2.5
 Food 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.5 0.3 1.9 2.4
 Energy 1.1 -3.2 -1.0 9.3 -6.6 -16.7 -0.3
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