Trendlines

December Consumer Price Index Adjusted Headline CPI Up

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the December Consumer Price Index data this morning. The year-over-year non-seasonally adjusted Headline CPI came in at 1.36%, up from 1.17% the previous month.

 

Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 1.62%, down from 1.65% the previous month and below 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) increased 0.4 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.2 percent in November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.4 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index was driven by an 8.4-percent increase in the gasoline index, which accounted for more than 60 percent of the overall increase. The other components of the energy index were mixed, resulting in an increase of 4.0 percent for the month. The food index rose in December, as both the food at home and the food away from home indexes increased 0.4 percent.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in December after rising 0.2 percent in the previous month. The indexes for apparel, motor vehicle insurance, new vehicles, personal care, and household furnishings and operations all rose in December. The indexes for used cars and trucks, recreation, and medical care were among those to decline over the month.

The all items index rose 1.4 percent for the 12 months ending December, a slightly larger increase than the 1.2-percent rise reported for the period ending November. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.6 percent over the last 12 months, as it did in the periods ending October and November. The food index rose 3.9 percent over the last 12 months, while the energy index fell 7.0 percent. Read more

Investing.com was looking for a 0.4% MoM change in seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and a 0.1% in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 1.3% for Headline and 1.6% 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.

Headline and Core CPI since 2000

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The next chart shows both series since 1957, the year the government first began tracking Core Inflation.

Headline and Core CPI

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 at the PCE target range of 2 percent.

 

Originally Posted in Advisor Perspectives