Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
The headline CPI rose at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent in January, slightly below its 12-month growth rate of 2.9 percent. Food and energy price increases were modest in January, and the bulk of the increase came from the “core” (excluding food and energy) index. The core CPI rose 2.7 percent in January, compared to its near-term (3-month) growth rate of 2.2 percent and its 12-month growth rate of 2.3 percent. Across broad components, price pressure was mostly to the upside in January. Apparel prices jumped up 11.2 percent during the month, seeming to resume its elevated trend from the middle of last year after a brief respite over the last four months of 2011. On a year-over-year basis the series is up 4.7 percent. Medical care commodities (up 7.4 percent), recreation prices (up 7.5 percent), motor vehicle fees (up 18.1 percent), and tobacco prices (up 5.8 percent), were also elevated in January.
On the other side of the price change distribution, used cars and trucks prices slipped 11.3 percent, marking an acceleration in its recent downward trend. On a year-over-year basis, the series is up just 3.2 percent, down sharply from current cyclical high of near 17 percent in mid-2010. A more general look at the price change distribution reveals that roughly 50 percent of the index rose at rates exceeding 3.0 percent, compared to roughly 30 percent over the previous 3 months.
On the other end of the distribution, just 22 percent of the index fell into the bins below 1 percent, compared to an average of 33 percent over the previous 3 months. The median CPI rose 3.0 percent and the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI increased 2.9 percent during the month. Notably, the revised seasonal factors led to an upward revision to the near-term growth rate in the median CPI—from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent through December. After adding in January’s increase, the 3-month growth rate in the median rose to 2.6 percent, slightly above its 12-month growth rate of 2.4 percent (which is its highest growth rate since April 2009). The near-term trend in the trim is a little lower (2.0 percent), but on a year-over-year basis, its up 2.6 percent. Echoing the upward pressure signaled by the median CPI, the sticky CPI—which tracks the price changes in the more persistent components of the marketbasket—rose 3.0 percent in January, outpacing its 3-month growth rate (2.7 percent) and its year-over-year growth rate of 2.2 percent.