Consumer Prices Log Moderate Gains in January

Consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in January, on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released the January results of its Consumer Price Index survey on Friday. Prices have risen 2.9 percent over the past 12 months.

In January, the indices for the core rate — which excludes volatile food and energy prices — rose 0.2 percent, while food and energy prices also rose 0.2 percent. “Food away from home” increased while “food at home” remained unchanged. Unsurprisingly, the index for gasoline increased, but the cost of household energy fell.

Prices consumers paid for groceries — “food at home” — increased 0.2 percent in January, with dairy and related products logging the steepest rise, up 0.9 percent. Fruits and vegetables declined by 1.3 percent, perhaps reflecting the unseasonably warm weather and lack of freezes last month. At the same time, the index for food away from home rose modestly, up 0.4 percent from December.

Gasoline prices were up 0.9 percent after falling for three consecutive months. The index for household energy fell by 0.6 percent, fuel oil rose 1.4 percent, and natural gas fell 2.9 percent, its fourth consecutive monthly decline. The index for used cars and trucks fell by a whole percentage point, while that for apparel increased by 0.9 percent. The medical care commodities category rose 0.6 percent, its first sizable increase in several months.

As for changes during the last twelve months ending in January, the “All Items” index rose 2.9 percent, energy rose 6.1 percent, and food rose 4.4 percent — all slightly down from the 12 months ended in December. The core rate rose 2.3 percent for the period ending in January in the largest 12-month increase since 2008.

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