Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
The CPI was flat (0.0 percent annualized rate) during the month, as energy prices slipped down 6.3 percent in February, following a 39 percent jump in January. The core CPI edged up 0.6 percent (annualized rate) in February, and has only ticked up 0.1 percent over the past three months, pulling its 12-month growth rate down from 1.6 percent in January to 1.3 percent. Measures of underlying inflation trends produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland—the median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—were mixed in February. The median CPI actually posted its first annualized monthly decrease since December 1982, ticking down 0.3 percent in February. The 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI increased a slight 0.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, the trim is up 1.1 percent, while the median CPI has risen just 0.8 percent (a series low). Softness was evident in the price change distribution, as a majority of the consumers’ marketbasket (51 percent) posted outright price declines in February. Categories of note in the lower tail: apparel, household furnishings and operations, personal care services, recreation, and some of the regional OER indexes. On the other end of the distribution, a little over 23 percent of the index (by expenditure weight) rose at rates exceeding 3 percent, with 21 percent rising at rates greater than 5 percent. In this tail, large and continued increases in used auto prices and medical care commodities is helping to hold up the overall index.