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 2.62%, up from 1.68% the previous month. Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 1.65%, up from 1.28% 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 0.6 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.4 percent in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The March 1-month increase was the largest rise since a 0.6-percent increase in August 2012. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 2.6 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The gasoline index continued to increase, rising 9.1 percent in March and accounting for nearly half of the seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index. The natural gas index also rose, contributing to a 5.0-percent increase in the energy index over the month. The food index rose 0.1 percent in March, with the food at home index and the food away from home index both also rising 0.1 percent.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in March. The shelter index increased in March as did the motor vehicle insurance index, the recreation index, and the household furnishings and operations index. Indexes which decreased over the month include apparel and education.

The all items index rose 2.6 percent for the 12 months ending March, a much larger increase than the 1.7-percent reported for the period ending in February. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.6 percent over the last 12 months, after increasing 1.3 percent over the 12 month period ending in February. The food index rose 3.5 percent over the last 12 months, while the energy index increased 13.2 percent over that period. Read more

Investing.com was looking for a 0.6% MoM change in seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and a 0.3% in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 2.5% for Headline and 1.5% 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

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.

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