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Consumer Prices Increased 2.1 Percent Year-Over-Year in December, the Highest Since May 2014

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in December, rising for the fifth straight month. The increase in the latest release stemmed largely from higher energy costs, up 1.5 percent, with gasoline prices up 3.0 percent. Indeed, the average price of regular conventional gasoline was $2.25 per gallon on December 26, up from $2.08 on November 28, according to the Energy Information Administration. Over the past 12 months, energy prices have risen 5.4 percent. At the same time, food prices were unchanged for the sixth consecutive month, with a decline of 0.2 percent since December 2015. Overall, the consumer price index increased 2.1 percent year-over-year in October, up from 0.9 percent in July and the highest level since May 2014.

Core consumer prices were up 0.2 percent in December, mirroring the pace seen in November. There were higher prices for medical care, new and used vehicles, transportation services and shelter, but lower costs for apparel and household furnishings. Excluding food and energy costs, consumer prices have increased 2.2 percent over the past 12 months, which was the average for 2016. Even though core consumer price inflation has exceeded the Federal Reserve’s stated goal of 2 percent for 14 consecutive months, overall prices pressures remain modest and under control for now.

Consumer Prices Increased 1.7 Percent Year-Over-Year in November, the Highest in More Than Two Years

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in November, slowing from the 0.4 percent gain in October. It was the fourth straight monthly increase. The slight uptick in consumer inflation in November stemmed from higher energy costs, up 1.2 percent, with gasoline prices up 2.7 percent. Nonetheless, energy prices, which can be quite volatile from month to month, were up 1.1 percent over the past 12 months. At the same time, food prices were unchanged for the fifth consecutive month, with a decline of 0.3 percent since November 2015. Overall, the consumer price index increased 1.7 percent year-over-year in November, up from 0.9 percent in July and the highest level since September 2014. Read More

Consumer Prices Increased 1.6 Percent Year-Over-Year in October, a Two-Year High

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in October, extending the 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent gains seen in August and September, respectively. It was also the fastest pace of monthly price growth since April. The jump in consumer inflation in October stemmed largely from higher energy prices, up 3.5 percent, with gasoline costs up 7.0 percent. Still, increases in energy prices in September and October followed declined in both July and August, and energy costs were up just 0.1 percent year-over-year. In addition, food prices were unchanged for the fourth straight month. Over the past 12 months, food prices have edged lower, down 0.4 percent since October 2015. Overall, the consumer price index increased 1.6 percent year-over-year in October, a two-year high and up from 0.9 percent in July.

Core consumer prices also moved higher, up 0.1 percent, in October. There were higher prices for apparel, medical care commodities, new vehicles and shelter, but lower costs for transportation services and used vehicles. Excluding food and energy costs, consumer prices have risen 2.2 percent since October 2015, essentially the same year-over-year rate seen for all of 2016 so far. Yet, even though core consumer price inflation has exceeded the Federal Reserve’s stated goal of 2 percent for 12 consecutive months, overall prices pressures remain modest and under control for now.

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.

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