Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
The headline CPI rose at an annualized rate of 3.7 percent in September, down slightly from its near-term (3-month) growth rate of 4.8 percent. On a year-over-year basis, however, the series ticked up from 3.8 percent to 3.9 percent in September. Rising energy and food prices were the primary contributors to the overall increase in September. Much of the increase in energy prices (up 27 percent) was due to the seasonal factor for gasoline. Prices at the pump did fall in September (at an annualized rate of 8.3 percent), though after seasonal adjustment, the series jumped up 41.5 percent, pushing up energy prices (and the overall index). The food price index rose 5.5 percent during the month, somewhat less than August’s increase of 6.4 percent, and is now up 4.7 percent over the past year. The release did note that none of the major grocery store food group indexes declined in September, and our data show that all but one “food at home” category (meat, poultry, fish, and eggs) ended up in the upper tail of the price change distribution (increases greater than 5 percent) this month.
Excluding food and energy prices, the “core&rdqo; CPI rose just 0.7 percent in September, following four straight increases above 2.5 percent. This marked slowdown came as a number of recent trends reversed course during the month. Notably, apparel prices—which were trending at an annualized growth rate of 16.2 percent over the prior 3 months—plummeted 12.7 percent in September. Also, used cars and trucks prices slipped down 6.5 percent in September, following double-digit price gains in four of the previous five months. New vehicle prices were roughly flat for the third consecutive month. After putting some upward pressure on the core CPI over the past two months, the index for OER (owners’ equivalent rent) rose 1.5 percent, equaling its 12-month percent change. The median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI measures rose 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, in September; edging away from their near-term (3-month) growth rates of roughly 3.0 percent. Over the past year, the median CPI rose 2.1 percent, while the trim is up 2.5 percent.