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Economy in Brief

U.S. CPI Gain Led by Higher Energy Prices; Core Prices Tick Higher
by Tom Moeller  October 13, 2017

The Consumer Price index increased 0.5% (2.2% y/y) during September following a 0.4% August gain. It was the strongest increase since January and compared to expectations for a 0.6% rise in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The CPI excluding food & energy ticked 0.1% higher (1.7% y/y) following a 0.2% rise. A 0.2% gain had been expected.

A 6.1% jump (10.1% y/y) in energy prices strengthened the overall price index. That followed a 2.8% increase. Gasoline prices jumped 13.1% (19.2% y/y) while fuel oil costs rose 8.2% (NSA, 15.6% y/y). Electricity prices held steady for a second month ( 1.7% y/y) while natural gas prices fell 0.8% (+3.8% y/y), down for the fourth straight month.

Services prices rose by a diminished 0.2% (+2.6% y/y), after a 0.4% gain. The rise reflected a lessened 0.3% increase (3.2% y/y) in shelter costs as the cost of lodging away from home rose an easier 1.5% (0.9% y/y). Rents of primary residences increased a lessened 0.2% (3.8% y/y) and the owners' equivalent rent of primary residences gained 0.2% (3.2% y/y) after three months of 0.3% increase. Recreation costs increased 0.2% (3.8% y/y) after two months of roughly 0.5% gain. Transportation services prices increased a fairly steady 0.3% (3.9% y/y) while medical care prices ticked just 0.1% higher (1.7% y/y), the weakest rise in four months.

Food prices ticked 0.1% higher (1.2% y/y) for a second month. Cereal & bakery product costs rose a lessened 0.1% (-0.1% y/y), while meat, poultry & fish prices eased 0.4% (+0.6% y/y). Fruit & vegetable prices eased 0.2% (+1.2% y/y) while dairy product prices fell 0.6% (-0.1% y/y). Egg prices edged 0.1% higher (-2.2% y/y).

Prices for goods excluding food & energy slipped 0.2% (-1.0% y/y), down for the eighth straight month. Recreation goods prices held steady (-3.0% y/y) while medical care product prices fell 0.8% (+1.0% y/y). Transportation product prices dipped 0.3% (-1.8% y/y) and apparel prices edged 0.1% lower (-0.2% y/y). Home furnishing prices fell 0.4% (-1.9% y/y) and appliance prices were off 0.5% (-1.5% y/y).

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

Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers (%) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total 0.5 0.4 0.1 2.2 1.3 0.1 1.6
Total less Food & Energy 0.1 0.2 0.1 1.7 2.2 1.8 1.7
  Goods less Food & Energy -0.2 -0.1 -0.1 -1.0 -0.5 -0.5 -0.3
  Services less Energy 0.2 0.4 0.2 2.6 3.1 2.6 2.5
 Food 0.1 0.1 0.2 1.2 0.3 1.9 2.4
 Energy 6.1 2.8 -0.1 10.1 -6.6 -16.7 -0.3
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