Consumer prices fell 0.4 percent in April 2013, marking a second straight monthly decline when coupled with the 0.2 percent fall in March. The huge reversal contrasts sharply from the 0.7 percent increase in February.
In each of the months, prices at the pump largely dictated and led changes. Last month, gasoline prices dropped 8.1 percent. They fell 4.4 percent in the prior month. In February when consumer prices jumped by the biggest mount since mid-2009, gasoline prices soared 9.1 percent.
Food prices did rise, however. The food prices index for April was 0.2 percent higher compared to the flat level in March. Stripping out food and energy costs, core consumer prices advanced 0.1 percent in April, which is the same increase as in March.
"As we look at the upcoming quarter and the remainder of our fiscal 2013, we expect inflation to continue to moderate modestly from where it is," Mark Shamber, chief financial officer of United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), said during a May 14 conference. Suppliers "don’t seem to be facing as much commodity pressure as they faced in the past."
US inflation over the past 12 months eased a tad by increasing 1.1 percent following the prior 12-month mark that had the annual US inflation rate at 1.5 percent. US inflation has not been lower since also rising 1.1 percent in November 2010. Also easing was core US inflation over the past year. It advanced 1.7 percent following the prior 1.9 percent inflation level for the 12 months ending in March.
And now, here is a snapshot of the recent pricing changes American consumers have experienced on average since October:
US Inflation: October 2012 – April 2013 Consumer Prices
|Oct 2012||Nov 2012||Dec 2012||Jan 2013||Feb 2013||Mar 2013||Apr 2013||12
|Food at home||0.3||0.3||0.2||.0||0.1||-0.1||0.1||1.0|
|Food away from home||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.2||0.3||2.3|
|Gasoline (all types)||-0.1||-6.0||-1.9||-3.0||9.1||-4.4||-8.1||-8.3|
|Utility (piped) gas service||-0.2||1.5||0.7||-1.7||1.2||1.0||4.4||7.6|
|All items less food, energy||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.3||0.2||0.1||0.1||1.7|
|Comm. less food, energy||.0||-0.1||-0.1||0.2||.0||-0.1||.0||-0.1|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.7||-0.4||-0.3||0.2||0.8||1.2||0.6||-0.6|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.2||0.2||0.1||2.3|
The following is the Consumer Price Index summary released earlier today, May 16, 2013, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.4 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.1 percent before seasonal adjustment.
As was the case in March, a sharp decrease in the gasoline index was the primary cause of the decline in the seasonally adjusted all items index. The fuel oil index also declined while the electricity and natural gas indexes increased; the net result was a 4.3 percent decrease in the energy index. The food index, unchanged in March, rose 0.2 percent in April.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in April, the same increase as in March. The indexes for shelter, used cars and trucks, new vehicles, and tobacco all increased in April. These increases were partially offset by declines in the indexes for apparel, airline fares, and recreation.
The all items index increased 1.1 percent over the last 12 months, the smallest 12-month increase since November 2010. The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.7 percent over the span; this was its smallest 12-month increase since June 2011. The food index rose 1.5 percent while the energy index declined 4.3 percent.
The food index increased 0.2 percent in April after being unchanged in March. The index for food at home turned up in April, increasing 0.1 percent after declining 0.1 percent the prior month. Four of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in April. The largest increase was for the cereals and bakery products index, which rose 0.6 percent. The indexes for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, and for other food at home both increased 0.4 percent, while the nonalcoholic beverages index rose 0.3 percent. In contrast, the index for fruits and vegetables fell 1.4 percent in April as the indexes for fresh fruits and fresh vegetables both declined for the second straight month. The index for dairy and related products was unchanged in April after declining in February and March. Over the last 12 months, the food at home index has risen 1.0 percent with all the major component groups increasing over that span except nonalcoholic beverages, which fell 0.2 percent. The index for food away from home increased 0.3 percent in April; this was its largest increase since August and it has risen 2.3 percent over the past year.
The energy index declined significantly for the second straight month, falling 4.3 percent in April after a 2.6 percent decline in March. The gasoline index, down 4.4 percent in March, fell 8.1 percent in April. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices decreased 3.7 percent in April.) The index for fuel oil also continued to decline, falling 4.4 percent after decreasing 2.1 percent the prior month. However, the index for natural gas increased sharply in April; its 4.4 percent increase was its largest since July 2008. The electricity index also rose, increasing 0.5 percent. Over the past 12 months, the index for gasoline has declined 8.3 percent and the fuel oil index has fallen 5.6 percent. In contrast to these declines, the index for natural gas has risen 7.6 percent and the electricity index has increased 1.1 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in April, the same increase as in March. The shelter index increased 0.2 percent for the fourth month in a row. The indexes for rent and for owners’ equivalent rent both advanced 0.2 percent. The index for used cars and trucks increased for the fourth month in a row, rising 0.6 percent in April. The index for new vehicles rose as well, advancing 0.3 percent. The tobacco index turned up, rising 0.6 percent in April after declining in February and March. The medical care index was unchanged in April, the first time it failed to rise since July 2010. The index for medical care commodities rose 0.1 percent, while the medical care services index fell 0.1 percent with the hospital services index declining 0.7 percent. Among the indexes declining in April was the apparel index, which fell 0.3 percent, its third consecutive decrease. The index for airline fares also fell, declining 0.7 percent, and the recreation index decreased 0.1 percent. The index for household furnishings and operations also fell 0.1 percent, its fourth decline in the last five months.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.7 percent for the 12 months ending April. This is slightly below the 1.9 percent average annual increase for the past ten years. The shelter index rose 2.2 percent over the past year, with the rent index increasing 2.7 percent and owners’ equivalent rent rising 2.1 percent.
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.1 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 232.531 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index decreased 0.1 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 0.9 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 228.949 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index decreased 0.2 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.1 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index decreased 0.1 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2011 period are subject to revision.
The Consumer Price Index for May 2013 is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, June 18, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).