Consumer Inflation Remains Tame - October 30, 2013
One day after the Labor Department reported tame producer, or wholesale, price data, with that Index actually falling by 0.1% in September, that same government agency has issued figures showing that there is also no inflation of note at the retail or consumer level.
On point, Labor earlier this morning reported that the Consumer Price Index rose by a modest 0.2% in September. That was in line with expectations and offers more evidence that those looking for a sustained increase in pricing pressures at any level will need to wait a while longer.
The latest price increase, meanwhile, was a bit higher than the 0.1% rise inked in August. (Note that the September reported was delayed by the recently ended government shutdown.) For the past 12 month, the CPI is up by a scant 1.2%. Moreover, if we back out the volatile food and energy components from the aggregate mix, to get the so-called core CPI, we find that prices were up just 0.1% last month, and are up only 1.7% for the past 12 months. Here, too, there is no inflation problem. Indeed, the core CPI has been up either 0.1% or 0.2% in every month since March, attesting to the stability of this price index.
As to the individual components in this report, the data show that energy costs rose by 0.8% last month; that uptrend, however, is likely to be reversed in October, as oil prices have fallen this month, with a barrel of crude now in the $98 range on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Also of note, apparel prices dipped by 0.5% in September, while commodity prices, less food and energy commodities, eased by 0.1%. Rising last month were new vehicle costs (up 0.2%) and medical care services (up 0.3%). This latter was the lone outlier in the report, although pressures in this notoriously price-sensitive component were not all that severe and were, in fact, much less of an issue than in August when this category saw material pricing pressures, gaining 0.7%.
Looked at in the aggregate, there is no inflation problem. Importantly, this is a key release as the Federal Reserve will be wrapping up its latest two-day FOMC meeting this afternoon, after which it will put out a statement, which is almost certain to note that the lead bank will be staying the course with regard to its monetary policies.
At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.