Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
The headline CPI jumped up at an annualized rate of 6.2 percent in December, though the release noted that spiking gasoline prices accounted for roughly 80 percent of it. Food prices also rose in December—up 1.5 percent—largely on a 28.2 percent increase in fresh fruits and vegetables prices (which was likely weather-induced). On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the index rose 1.1 percent during the month, outpacing its short-to-medium-term trends. Over the past three months, the core CPI is up 0.7 percent, compared to its 12-month growth rate of 0.8 percent. Shelter prices increased 1.6 percent in December, its largest increase since April 2009, driving most of the gain in core prices. Within shelter, rent of primary residence rose 2.7 percent, while OER was up 1.1 percent. Airfares and medical care prices also increased in December, though they were partially offset by declines in communication (down 6.6 percent), recreation (down 2.2 percent), and household operations and furnishings (down 0.7 percent). The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's measures of underlying inflation trends—the median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—also firmed up a little in December, rising 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. Over the past three months, both series are outpacing their respective 12-month growth rates which stand at 0.6 percent for the median CPI and 0.8 percent for the trimmed-mean measure. The distribution of price-changes underlying these measures has also firmed up a little and is continuing to pull mass toward the 0 percent to 2 percent range. In November and December just 23 percent over the consumers’ marketbasket (by expenditure weight) exhibited outright price declines, compared to an average of nearly half of the index over the first six months of the 2010. That difference in weight is showing up as price increases between 0 percent and 2 percent, which have averaged 44 percent over the past two months, compared to 27 percent over the first six months of the year. The upper end of the price-change distribution hasn't moved much, as 22 percent of the overall index is rising at rates exceeding 3.0 percent, compared to a 23 percent average during the first six months of 2010.