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consumer prices

Consumer Prices Increased for the Fourth Straight Month, Lifted by Higher Energy Costs

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in June, matching the gain seen in May. It marked the fourth straight monthly increase in consumer costs. Higher energy costs have helped to buoy these growth in consumer prices over that time frame, up 1.3 percent in June alone.  With that said, energy prices have declined over the past year as a whole, down 9.4 percent, and they have generally helped to keep a lid on larger pricing pressures over that time frame. Food costs have also quite modest over the past year, up just 0.3 percent since June 2015, which has helped. In June, food prices were off by 0.1 percent, with costs lower for meats, dairy and fruits and vegetables. On a year-over-year basis, the consumer price index increased 1.1 percent, unchanged from the pace seen in the prior two releases but accelerating from 0.7 percent six months ago. Read More

Core Consumer Inflation Picked Up to 2.2 Percent in January

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices were unchanged in January. Energy prices fell 2.8 percent for the month, but core inflation – which exclude food and energy prices – picked up, rising 0.3 percent. Food prices were flat. On the energy front, gasoline prices were off 4.8 percent, declining sharply for the second straight month. Along those lines, the average price of regular conventional gasoline decreased from decreased from $1.933 at the end of December to $1.752 a gallon at the end of January, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gasoline prices have continued to fall since then, averaging $1.638 per gallon on February 15, its lowest level since December 29, 2008. Meanwhile, higher prices for fruits and vegetables were offset by reduced costs in other categories.

Core consumer prices accelerated to their fastest monthly pace since August 2011, boosted by strong gains for apparel, medical care, new vehicles, shelter expenses and transportation services. On a year-over-year basis, core inflation was 2.2 percent, up from 1.8 percent six months ago. This was the highest year-over-year level for core inflation since June 2012. Yet, overall pricing pressures continue to remain in control for now, providing the Federal Reserve some flexibility even as it decides when to raise short-term interest rates once more.

Consumer Prices Fell for the Second Month on Lower Energy Costs

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the consumer price index fell 0.2 percent in September, extending the 0.1 percent decline seen in August. Once again, the decrease mainly reflected lower energy prices for the month, which were off by 4.7 percent. Gasoline prices have fallen by 4.1 percent and 9.0 percent over the past two months, respectively, with prices down 29.6 percent year-over-year. Along those lines, the average price of regular conventional gasoline decreased from $2.555 per gallon at the beginning of August to $2.246 a gallon at the end of September, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). (It has edged slightly higher since then, averaging $2.283 per gallon on October 12.) Read More

Monday Economic Report – June 22, 2015

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Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Last week, one media outlet reported that manufacturing has been in a “technical recession” for the past six months. I am more hesitant to use the R-word to describe the sector’s performance year-to-date, and in my view, this description somewhat overstates the significance of broader market trends, particularly for expectations moving forward. At the same time, manufacturing production has declined since late last year, as illustrated in the graphic below. A number of significant economic headwinds have reduced output in four of the past six months, reducing the year-over-year pace of growth in the sector from 4.5 percent in November to 1.8 percent in May. Capacity utilization has also declined for five consecutive months, down from 78.1 percent in December to 77.0 percent in May. Read More

Higher Gasoline Costs Help Increase Consumer Prices at Fastest Pace in Over 2 Years

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the consumer price index rose by 0.4 percent in May, its fastest monthly pace since February 2013. This was largely due to higher gasoline prices, which increased 10.4 percent for the month. Indeed, the average price of regular conventional gasoline was $2.656 per gallon on June 1, up from $2.451 a gallon on April 27, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). (It has risen further since then, averaging $2.744 per gallon on June 15.) To be fair, of course, gasoline prices remain lower than they were one year ago, down 25.0 percent year-over-year. For instance, the EIA data suggest that the average price of regular gasoline on June 16, 2014, was $3.621 per gallon. Read More

Consumer Prices Rose 0.1 Percent in April

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in April, slightly lower than the 0.2 percent gains observed in both February and March. Lower energy prices helped to reduce the pace of the headline number, with energy costs down 1.3 percent for the month. Gasoline prices declined 1.9 percent in April, easing a bit after 2.4 percent and 3.9 percent increases observed in February and March, respectively. On a year-over-year basis, gasoline sells for 31.7 percent less today than in April 2014. Note that the average price of gasoline has risen a little since then, with the Energy Information Administration reporting that the average price of regular gasoline was $2.604 per gallon on May 18, up from $2.315 on April 6. This is still more than one dollar lower than seen 12 months ago. Read More

Monday Economic Report – April 20, 2015

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Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:

Manufacturing production increased 0.1 percent in March. This followed three months of weaker data, including declines in both January and February. There have been some significant headwinds hitting the manufacturing sector over the past few months, including a strong U.S. dollar, weakened economic markets abroad, lower crude oil prices, the West Coast ports slowdown and weather. These challenges have slowed activity in the sector since November. The latest Beige Book discussed these headwinds. The year-over-year pace of manufacturing production in March was 2.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in November. Meanwhile, total industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, fell 0.6 percent in March, declining for the third time in the past four months. As such, the data suggest manufacturers have started the new year on a very soft note despite optimism for better demand and output moving forward. Read More

Higher Gasoline Costs Help Increase Consumer Prices for the Second Straight Month

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the consumer price index increased for the second straight month in March, up 0.2 percent. This was largely due to higher gasoline prices, which increased 2.4 percent and 3.9 percent in February and March, respectively. To be fair, the price of regular gasoline remains 29.2 percent lower today than it was 12 months ago. Indeed, the average price of regular gasoline rose from $1.982 a gallon on January 26 to $2.348 per gallon on March 30, according to the Energy Information Administration. It has edged marginally lower since then, down to $2.317 per gallon on April 13, or earlier this week. Read More

Consumer Prices Rose for the First Time in Four Months in February

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the consumer price index (CPI) rose for the first time in four months, up 0.2 percent in February. This was largely due to higher gasoline prices, which increased 2.4 percent in February. To be fair, the price of regular gasoline remains 33.5 percent lower today than it was 12 months ago. Indeed, the average price of regular gasoline declined from $3.639 a gallon on June 23 to $1.982 a gallon on January 26, according to the Energy Information Administration. It then rose to $2.256 per gallon on February 23, and has since edged up to $2.347 this week. Read More

Monday Economic Report – January 20, 2015

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Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Financial markets around the world continued to react to the softening global economic environment. In particular, foreign exchange markets were rocked by news that Switzerland would no longer support its cap on the franc, where that currency has been seen as a safe haven, particularly against the euro. Almost immediately, the Swiss franc appreciated sharply against the euro and other currencies. For its part, the euro has continued to depreciate against the U.S. dollar, with one euro selling for $1.1581 on Friday. This was down $1.3927 on March 17, the high point of 2014, representing an appreciation of more than 17 percent for the U.S. dollar against the euro. These developments could hurt the ability of manufacturers in the United States to grow exports. Read More