2012 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Price Index  
Released On 5/15/2012 8:30:00 AM For Apr, 2012
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.3 %0.0 %-0.1 % to 0.4 %0.0 %
CPI - Y/Y change2.6 %2.3 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.2 %0.2 %0.0 % to 0.2 %0.2 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change2.3 %2.3 %
CPI - level229.098 index level
Core CPI - level228.432 index level

CPI inflation in April slowed sharply on lower energy costs. Meanwhile, the core rate held steady. The consumer price index posted at unchanged in April after a 0.3 percent boost the prior month. Analysts forecast no change. Excluding food and energy, the CPI rose 0.2 percent, matching the March pace. Analysts expected a 0.2 percent rise.

By major components, energy fell 1.7 percent after jumping 0.9 percent in March. Gasoline dropped 2.6 percent, following a 1.7 percent rise the prior month. Food price inflation held steady at 0.2 percent.

Within the core, apparel prices posted a notable gain while recreation declined. New and used vehicles saw notable increases in prices.

Year-on-year, overall CPI inflation softened to 2.3 percent from 2.6 percent in March (seasonally adjusted). The core rate stayed 2.3 percent on a year-ago basis. On an unadjusted year-ago basis, the headline number was up 2.3 percent in April versus 2.7 percent in March while the core was up 2.3 percent, matching March, not seasonally adjusted.

With recent help from energy, headline numbers are headed toward the Fed's inflation goal of 2 percent. However, the core rate has been a little stubborn and will provide ammunition for the inflation hawks on the FOMC.

Consensus Outlook
The consumer price index in March increased 0.3 percent, following a 0.4 percent boost in February. Excluding food and energy, the CPI firmed to a 0.2 percent gain in March, following a 0.1 percent uptick the prior month. By major components, energy jumped 0.9 percent, following a 3.2 percent surge in February. Food price inflation increased to 0.2 percent from no change in February. Within the core, apparel prices rebounded after declining in February. Used car prices jumped sharply. And shelter costs firmed.

The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the change in the average price level of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. Monthly changes in the CPI represent the rate of inflation for the consumer. Annual inflation is also closely watched.

The consumer price index is available nationally by expenditure category and by commodity and service group for all urban consumers (CPI-U) and wage earners (CPI-W). All urban consumers are a more inclusive group, representing about 87 percent of the population. The CPI-U is the more widely quoted of the two, although cost-of-living contracts for unions and Social Security benefits are usually tied to the CPI-W, because it has a longer history. Monthly variations between the two are slight.

The CPI is also available by size of city, by region of the country, for cross-classifications of regions and population-size classes, and for many metropolitan areas. The regional and city CPIs are often used in local contracts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also produces a chain-weighted index called the Chained CPI. This measures a variable basket of goods and services whereas the regular CPI-U and CPI-W measure a fixed basket of goods and services. The Chained CPI is similar to the personal consumption expenditure price index that is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve Board.  Why Investors Care
It is always a good idea to look at more than a few months of data to get a sense of changes in established trends. Monthly changes in the CPI are mainly volatile because of sharp fluctuations in food and energy prices. The core CPI eliminates the sharper fluctuations.
Data Source: Haver Analytics
Yearly changes tend to smooth out more severe monthly fluctuations and give a better idea of the underlying rate of inflation. Even with the smoother trend, note that the core CPI does not fluctuate as much as the total CPI.
Data Source: Haver Analytics

2012 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/192/173/164/135/156/147/178/159/1410/1611/1512/14
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

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