Inflation Comes in Below Forecast,
Thanks Again Mostly to Lower Gasoline Prices
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest CPI data this morning. Year-over-year unadjusted Headline CPI came in at 1.06%, which the BLS rounds to 1.1%, down from 1.47% last month (rounded to 1.5%). Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 1.72% (rounded to 1.7%), down from last month's 1.89% (rounded to 1.9%).
Here is the introduction from the BLS summary, which leads with the seasonally adjusted data monthly data:
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.4 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.1 percent before seasonal adjustment.
As was the case in March, a sharp decrease in the gasoline index was the primary cause of the decline in the seasonally adjusted all items index. The fuel oil index also declined while the electricity and natural gas indexes increased; the net result was a 4.3 percent decrease in the energy index. The food index, unchanged in March, rose 0.2 percent in April.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in April, the same increase as in March. The indexes for shelter, used cars and trucks, new vehicles, and tobacco all increased in April. These increases were partially offset by declines in the indexes for apparel, airline fares, and recreation.
The all items index increased 1.1 percent over the last 12 months, the smallest 12-month increase since November 2010. The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.7 percent over the span; this was its smallest 12-month increase since June 2011. The food index rose 1.5 percent while the energy index declined 4.3 percent. More...
The Briefing.com consensus forecast was for a seasonally adjusted MoM -0.2% for Headline and 0.2% Core.
The first chart is an overlay of Headline CPI and Core CPI (the latter excludes Food and Energy) since 1957. The second chart gives a close-up of the two since 2000.
On the chart below I've highlighted 2 to 2.5 percent range. Two percent has generally been understood to be the Fed's target for core inflation. However, the December 12 FOMC meeting raised the inflation ceiling to 2.5% for the next year or two while their accommodative measures (low Fed Funds Rate and quantitative easing) are in place.
Federal Reserve policy, which has historically focused on core inflation, and especially the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), will see that the latest core CPI is below the near-term target range of 2 to 2.5 percent, and the more volatile headline inflation, is well below the target range.