The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March Consumer Price Index data this morning.
The year-over-year non-seasonally adjusted Headline CPI came in at 2.36%, up from 2.21% the previous month. Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 2.12%, up from the previous month’s 1.85% and above the Fed’s 2% PCE target.
Here is the introduction from the BLS summary, which leads with the seasonally adjusted monthly data:
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.1 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.2 percent in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.4 percent before seasonal adjustment.
A decline in the gasoline index more than outweighed increases in the indexes for shelter, medical care, and food to result in the slight seasonally adjusted decline in the all items index. The energy index fell sharply due mainly to the 4.9-percent decrease in the gasoline index. The index for food rose 0.1 percent over the month, with the indexes for food at home and food away from home both increasing.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in March, the same increase as in February. Along with shelter and medical care, the indexes for personal care, motor vehicle insurance, and airline fares all rose. The indexes for apparel, for communication, and for used cars and trucks all declined over the month.
The all items index rose 2.4 percent for the 12 months ending March, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 2017 and higher than the 1.6-percent average annual rate over the past 10 years. The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.1 percent, its largest 12-month increase since the period ending February 2017. The energy index increased 7.0 percent over the past 12 months, and the food index advanced 1.3 percent. [More…]
Investing.com was looking for a flat MoM in seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and 0.2% in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 2.4% for Headline and 2.1% for Core.
The first chart is an overlay of Headline CPI and Core CPI (the latter excludes Food and Energy) since the turn of the century. The highlighted two percent level is the Federal Reserve’s Core inflation target for the CPI’s cousin index, the BEA’s Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index.
The next chart shows both series since 1957, the year the government first began tracking Core Inflation.
In the wake of the Great Recession, two percent has been the Fed’s target for core inflation. However, at their December 2012 FOMC meeting, the inflation ceiling was raised to 2.5% while their accommodative measures (low Fed Funds Rate and quantitative easing) were in place. They have since reverted to the two percent target in their various FOMC documents.
Federal Reserve policy, which in recent history has focused on core inflation measured by the core PCE Price Index, will see that the more familiar core CPI is now above the PCE target range of 2 percent.