Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
The headline CPI jumped 5.0 percent in February, but 80 percent of that was gasoline prices. Despite the uptick in February, the 12-month growth rate in the CPI remained at 2.9 percent. Contrasting the jump in gasoline prices, electricity prices were flat and natural gas prices continued to decline—slipping down 9.4 percent during the month (down 1.0 percent over the past year). Food prices—which are up 3.9 percent over the past year—were virtually unchanged in February. Excluding food and energy prices, the (“core”) CPI rose 1.2 percent in February, slightly below its near-term (3-month) growth rate of 1.9 percent, and a full percentage point below its 12-month growth rate of 2.2 percent. Our underlying inflation measures—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—gave a similar signal. The median CPI rose 1.7 percent during the month, while the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI edged up just 1.3 percent. February’s reading for both measures fell short of their respective near-term growth rates of 2.4 percent for the median and 2.0 percent for the trim. After factoring in February’s data, the 12-month growth rate in the median CPI edged down from 2.4 percent to 2.3 percent, and the growth rate in the trim slipped down by 0.2 percentage points to 2.4 percent. Interestingly, prices of 21 out of the 45 components that we use to calculate the median CPI declined in February. After expenditure weighting, that represents roughly 30 percent of the overall marketbasket. Also, just 24 percent of the overall index rose at rates exceeding 3.0 percent in February, compared to 50 percent last month and roughly 40 percent over the past six months.