Consumer Price Index: May Headline at 5%
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the May Consumer Price Index data this morning. The year-over-year non-seasonally adjusted Headline CPI came in at 4.99%, up from 4.16% the previous month. Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 3.80%, up from 2.96% the previous month 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) increased 0.6 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.8 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 5.0 percent before seasonal adjustment; this was the largest 12-month increase since a 5.4-percent increase for the period ending August 2008.
The index for used cars and trucks continued to rise sharply, increasing 7.3 percent in May. This increase accounted for about one-third of the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index increased 0.4 percent in May, the same increase as in April. The energy index was unchanged in May, with a decline in the gasoline index again offsetting increases in the electricity and natural gas indexes.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.7 percent in May after increasing 0.9 percent in April. Many of the same indexes continued to increase, including used cars and trucks, household furnishings and operations, new vehicles, airline fares, and apparel. The index for medical care fell slightly, one of the few major component indexes to decline in May.
The all items index rose 5.0 percent for the 12 months ending May; it has been trending up every month since January, when the 12-month change was 1.4 percent. The index for all items less food and energy rose 3.8 percent over the last 12-months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1992. The energy index rose 28.5 percent over the last 12-months, and the food index increased 2.2 percent. Read more
Investing.com was looking for a 0.4% MoM change in seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and a 0.4% in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 4.7% for Headline and 3.4% 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 at the PCE target range of 2 percent.
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