US Inflation Rate Lowest in 16 Months

Annual inflation rate in the United States fell to 1.9 percent in December of 2018 from 2.2 percent in November, matching market expectations. It is the lowest inflation rate since August of 2017, mainly due to a decline in gasoline cost. On a monthly basis, consumer prices edged down 0.1 percent after a flat reading in the previous month and also in line with forecasts. It is the first monthly decrease in consumer prices in nine months, due to a 7.5 percent slump in gasoline prices.

Year-on-year, prices fell for gasoline (-2.1 pecent compared to +5 percent in November); new vehicles (-0.3 percent compared to +0.3 percent); medical care commodities (-0.5 percent compared to +0.6 percent); and apparel (-0.1 percent compared to -0.4 percent). Also, cost slowed for fuel oil (1.9 percent compared to 16.1 percent in November); transportation services (2.8 percent compared to 3.3 percent); and used cars and trucks (1.4 percent compared to 2.3 percent). On the other hand, inflation went up for electricity (1.1 percent compared to 0.6 percent); food (1.6 percent compared to 1.4 percent); medical care services (2.6 percent compared to 2.4 percent); and used cars and trucks (1.4 percent compared to 0.4 percent) but was steady for shelter (3.2 percent). Also, cost rebounded for utility piped gas service (2.3 percent compared to -2.1 percent). 

Excluding food and energy, consumer prices increased 2.2 percent over a year earlier, the same as in November and matching forecasts.

On a monthly basis, the gasoline index fell 7.5 percent in December. This decline more than offset increases in several indexes including shelter, food, and other energy components. The energy index went down 3.5 percent, as the gasoline and fuel oil indexes decreased, but the indexes for natural gas and for electricity increased. The food index went up 0.4 percent in December.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in December, the same increase as in October and November and in line with forecasts. Along with the index for shelter, the indexes for recreation, medical care, and household furnishings and operations all increased in December, while the indexes for airline fares, used cars and trucks, and motor vehicle insurance all declined. 

US Inflation Rate Lowest in 16 Months

BLS | Joana Taborda |
1/11/2019 2:08:33 PM