Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
The headline CPI jumped up at an annualized rate of 4.9 percent in January, following a 5.3 percent increase in December. Over the past 12-months the CPI is up 1.6 percent, but its near-term (3-month annualized) trend somewhat more elevated, at 3.9 percent. Energy commodity and food prices are exerting significant upward price pressure lately, and accounted for roughly two thirds of the overall increase in January (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Food prices spiked in January, with the food at home index jumping up 9.3 percent (its largest increase since July 2008), as all six major food groupings posted increases. Excluding food and energy prices, the CPI rose 2.1 percent during the month, pulling up its near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate to 1.4 percent and its 12-month trend to 1.0 percent (from 0.8 percent). Price increases in apparel, airline fares, and medical care commodities were all particularly pronounced. The relatively volatile apparel index increased 13.3 percent in January (perhaps some pass-through from spiking cotton prices), posting only its third double-digit monthly increase since 2000. Airfares rose 29.6 percent in January, and have risen 33 percent over the past three months.
Measures of underlying inflation produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland also picked up a bit in January, with the median CPI rising 2.0 percent and the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI increasing 2.7 percent. Still, over the past 12 months, the median and trimmed-mean measures are up just 0.8 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively. A little more weight in the relative price-change distribution pushed out to the upper tail in January, with roughly 20 percent of the index (by expenditure weight) exhibiting price increases in excess of 5.0 percent, compared to an average of 12 percent in 2010. Roughly 20 percent of the overall index was also in the lower tail in January, shy of its 2010 average of 39 percent and its average over the previous three months (31 percent). Confirming the recent tick up in our other measures of underlying inflation (perhaps back to more “normal” growth rates), the sticky price CPI rose 2.0 percent in January and is trending at a rate of 1.5 percent over the past three months, compared to its year-over-year growth rate of 1.0 percent. That tick up in the trend is not just shelter components (which have risen modestly lately), as the sticky price CPI ex shelter rose 2.4 percent in January and is up 1.6 percent over the past three months.