U.S. inflation figures in April held at least one small surprise, the core rate which discounts food and energy costs rose by the biggest amount in more than two years, picking up mainly on housing and healthcare costs.
Conversely, inflation on an annual basis marked its largest decline in over five years, and only its third retreat since 2009.
In April, the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, rose 0.1% following two straight monthly increases at 0.2%. The index as recently as January was down 0.7%, posting the biggest monthly decline since December 2008.
Energy prices fell 1.3% after rising 1.1% previously. Within the energy index, prices at the pump dropped 1.7% after soaring 3.9% in March — the biggest gain in gasoline since February 2013. The price of food flattened last month after falling 0.2% previously — their first decline since May 2013.
Stripping food and energy and as mentioned to earlier, the core inflation rate or base consumer prices went up 0.3% compared to three straight monthly increases of 0.2%. The April increase is the biggest since January 2013.
From April 2014 to April 2015, inflation declined 0.2%. There has been no bigger annual drop in U.S. inflation rates since October 2009. The 12-month period ended March and January logged declines of 0.1% each. The rate was flat in February.
Lastly, core U.S. inflation picked up 1.8% over the past 12 months, the same as in March. This is the key figure watched by the Federal Reserve.
"The latest inflation readings indicate subdued prices pressures, but core inflation remains well-anchored," analysts at Oxford Economics said in a research note. "We expect headline inflation will rise at a stronger pace in the latter of this year as the effects from a stronger dollar and lower oil price dissipate."
Below are most-watched consumer prices by category and their month-over-month changes. The last column offers the annual changes. The prices for these items are gathered and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on a monthly basis. For the entire BLS summary report for April, visit http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cpi_05222015.htm.
Table of US Inflation / Consumer Prices (%)
|Oct 2014||Nov 2014||Dec 2014||Jan 2015||Feb 2015||Mar 2015||Apr 2015||12 Month|
|Food at home||0.2||0.1||0.2||-0.2||0.1||-0.5||-0.2||1.3|
|Food away from home||0.2||0.4||0.3||0.2||0.3||0.2||0.2||2.9|
|Gasoline (all types)||-2.0||-7.2||-9.2||-18.7||2.4||3.9||-1.7||-31.7|
|Utility (piped) gas service||-1.9||-1.3||1.4||-3.4||-2.0||-2.7||-2.6||-16.3|
|All items less food, energy||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.3||1.8|
|Commodities less food, energy||.0||-0.3||-0.2||-0.1||0.2||0.3||0.1||-0.2|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.6||-0.9||-0.8||-0.1||1.0||1.2||0.6||-0.5|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.1||0.2||0.3||2.5|
The Consumer Price Index report for May has a scheduled release date of June 18, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).