United States Inflation Rate Lowest since 2016

Consumer prices in the United States increased 1.5 percent year-on-year in February of 2019, following a 1.6 percent rise in January and below market expectations of 1.6 percent. It is the lowest inflation rate since September of 2016, mainly due to a fall in cost of gasoline and clothing while prices of electricity stalled. On a monthly basis, consumer prices went up 0.2 percent after a flat reading in January, matching forecasts. It is the first monthly rise in the CPI, due to prices of food, gasoline and rents.

Year-on-year, prices fell for gasoline (-9.1 pecent compared to -10.1 percent in January); fuel oil (-2.4 percent compared to -8.1 percent); medical care commodities (-1.1 percent compared to -0.3 percent); apparel (-0.8 percent compared to +0.1 percent) and utility piped gas service (-2.6 percent compared to +4.3 percent). Also, prices slowed for transportation services (1.1 percent compared to 2 percent); used cars and trucks (1.1 percent compared to 1.6 percent); and new vehicles (0.3 percent compared to 0 percent) and stalled for electricity (0 percent compared to 1.3 percent). On the other hand, inflation increased for shelter (3.4 percent compared to 3.2 percent) and food (2 percent compared to 1.6 percent) and was flat for medical care services (2.4 percent, the same as in January).

Excluding food and energy, core inflation rate edged down to 2.1 percent from 2.2 percent in January, below forecasts of 2.2 percent.

Month-over-month, the indexes for shelter and food increased, and the gasoline index rose after recent declines to result in the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index rose 0.4 percent, its largest monthly increase since May 2014, as both the food at home and food away from home indexes increased. The gasoline index rose 1.5 percent in February, following three consecutive monthly declines, resulting in the energy index rising 0.4 percent despite declines in the electricity and natural gas indexes.   

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in February after rising 0.2 percent in January, matching market expectations. Along with the shelter index, the indexes or personal care, apparel, and education all increased. The indexes for recreation, medical care, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles all declined in February. 

United States Inflation Rate Lowest since 2016

BLS | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
3/12/2019 12:56:25 PM