Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
Headline CPI rose at an annualized rate of 1.2 percent in September, as increases in food and energy prices (up 3.8 percent and 8.2 percent) contributed to the overall increase. Excluding those relatively volatile categories, the core CPI was unchanged during the month, pulling its 12-month growth rate down 0.1 percentage point to 0.8 percent in September. Our measures of underlying inflation, the median and 16 percent trimmed-mean measures, rose 0.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively in September. Those increases were slightly below each series’ short-term (3-month annualized) trend and more in-line with their 12-month growth rates of 0.5 percent for the median and 0.8 percent for the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI. These series have been just north of flat through the first quarter of this year and are ranging between 0.4 percent and 0.7 percent. Digging a little further into the details, nearly 50 percent of the overall index (by expenditure weight) exhibited outright price declines in September, consistent with its average over the first five months of the year (47 percent), compared to an average of 34 percent over the prior three months. However, the upper tail of the distribution has remained relatively stable throughout the year (so far), with an average weight of 15 percent of the marketbasket. There are a couple of mentionable price moves in September. First, the price index for hospital services jumped up a whopping 23.8 percent (a series high with data back to 1997), pushing medical service prices up 9.5 percent (its largest monthly increase since the early 1990s). Also, it seems that those curiously strong increases in used car and truck prices are beginning to dissipate, as the series fell 7.6 percent in September, helping to edge its 12-month growth rate down to 12.9 percent, further away from its recent peak of 17.0 percent in July. Finally, rent of primary residence jumped up 1.6 percent during the month, its largest monthly increase since April 2009. However, owners’ equivalent rent (OER), the largest component of shelter, was virtually flat, rising just 0.3 percent at an annualized rate.