Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
The headline CPI rose at an annualized rate of 5.2 percent in April, its fifth consecutive monthly increase in excess of 4.5 percent. Over the past six months, the CPI is up 5.1 percent, compared to its 12-month growth rate of 3.2 percent. Much of the overall increase has been tied to energy price increases over the past five months or so and April was no different, as energy prices rose roughly 30 percent, accounting for nearly half of the overall increase. Food prices, which have also been elevated recently, rose 6.4 percent in April (interestingly, it was the smallest monthly increase this year). The “slow-down” (if you can call it that) in food prices was mainly due to a 12.4 percent decrease in fruits and vegetables prices, which followed four consecutive double-digit increases. Excluding food and energy prices, the index rose a much more modest 2.2 percent in April. Still, the core CPI is up 2.1 percent over the past three months, and its 12-month growth rate stands at 1.3 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from a recent low of 0.6 percent in October 2010. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's measures of underlying inflation were slightly less sanguine in April. The median CPI rose 2.8 percent during the month, while the 16 percent trimmed-mean measure jumped up 3.3 percent. Recently, the trimmed-mean CPI has outpaced the median. So much so, that the 3-month annualized growth rate in the trimmed-mean has risen to 3.4 percent, 1.1 percentage points over the near-term trend in the median CPI (which stands at 2.3 percent). Over the past 12 months the trimmed-mean CPI is up 1.7 percent, while the median CPI has increased 1.4 percent. Recently, there has been some upward pressure on the right tail of the price change distribution, and the trimmed-mean has picking up on some of those rapid price increases. Roughly 22 percent of the overall index rose at rates greater than 5.0 percent in April, in line with its average over the past 3 months (23 percent). April’s price change distribution looks fairly similar to the average over the first three months of the year, but its definitely moved away from its disinflationary stance seen in 2010.