Consumer Prices Edge Up

According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), prices on expenditures made by urban consumers increased 1.1% before seasonal adjustments over the past twelve months. Consumer prices increased in February by 0.1% on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis.

The Core CPI, which excludes more volatile food and energy prices, rose by 0.1% month-over-month. Over the past twelve months Core CPI increased by 1.6%.

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The food index rose sharply by 0.4% month-over-month, its largest increase since 2011. Over the past twelve months the food index increased by 1.4%. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, a component of the food index, experienced the largest month-over-month increase of 1.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis. Over the past twelve months the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased by 4.0%.

The energy index fell 0.5% on a month-over-month seasonally adjusted basis after two consecutive months of increases. The month-over-month decline in the energy index was driven by a 1.7% decrease in the gasoline index. Over the past twelve months the gasoline index decreased by 8.1%.

The natural gas index, a component of the energy price index, experienced the second consecutive month-over-month increase of 3.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis. Over the past twelve months the natural gas index increased by 8.3%.

The shelter index rose 0.2% month-over-month in February after increasing 0.3% month-over-month in January.  Over the past twelve months, the shelter index increased 2.6% before seasonal adjustments.

The increase in the shelter index partly reflects increases in rental prices; the BLS measure does not isolate the change in rental prices from the changes in the overall price index. NAHB constructs a real price index by deflating the price index for rent by the index for overall inflation. This measure indicates whether inflation in rents is faster or slower than general inflation and provides insight into the supply and demand conditions for rental housing, after controlling for overall inflation. When rents are rising faster (slower) than general inflation the real rent index rises (declines).

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The real rent index has increased for thirteen consecutive months. The real rent index increased in February by 0.1% month-over-month and 1.2% over the past year.



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