The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices decreased 0.3 percent in March, its first decline in 13 months. The reduced figure stemmed from a reduction in energy costs, down 3.2 percent, including a 6.0 percent decline in gasoline prices. With that said, gasoline costs have jumped nearly 20 percent over the past 12 months. At the same time, food prices increased by 0.3 percent in March, its highest monthly rate since June 2015. Overall, the consumer price index increased 2.4 percent year-over-year in March, down from 2.8 percent in February but up from 0.9 percent one year ago.
Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy costs, edged down 0.1 percent in March. There were higher prices for medical care and transportation services in this release, but those were offset by reduced costs for apparel, household furnishings and new and used vehicles. Excluding food and energy costs, consumer prices have increased 2.0 percent over the past 12 months, pulling back a little from 2.2 percent in the prior report. Even though core consumer price inflation has equaled or exceeded the Federal Reserve’s stated goal of 2 percent for 17 consecutive months, overall prices pressures remain modest and under control for now.