2014 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Price Index  
Released On 3/18/2014 8:30:00 AM For Feb, 2014
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.1 %0.1 %0.0 % to 0.4 %0.1 %
CPI - Y/Y change1.6 %1.1 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.1 %0.1 %0.1 % to 0.2 %0.1 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change1.6 %1.6 %
CPI - level234.933 index level
Core CPI - level235.843 index level

Consumer price inflation remained quite soft in February at the headline and core levels. Headline inflation posted at 0.1 percent, matching the pace in January and also matching market expectations. Similarly, the CPI excluding food and energy inflation rate held steady at 0.1 percent, equaling the January pace and meeting analysts' forecasts.

The energy component declined 0.5 percent after increasing 0.6 percent in January. Gasoline fell 1.7 percent in February, following a decline of 1.0 percent the month before. Food price inflation, however, jumped to 0.4 percent after nudging up 0.1 percent in January.

Within the core, the shelter index rose 0.2 percent, with the indexes for rent and owners' equivalent rent both rising 0.2 percent, and the index for lodging away from home advancing 0.6 percent. The medical care index increased 0.3 percent in February, the same as January. The index for medical care commodities was up 0.6 percent while the index for medical care services increased 0.2 percent. The index for airline fares rose 1.3 percent in February. The index for personal care was up 0.2 percent. The recreation index was up 0.1 percent. The index for new vehicles rose 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, the index for household furnishings and operations was down 0.4 percent. The apparel index dropped 0.3 percent (the same as January). The index for used cars and trucks fell 0.1 percent. The alcohol and tobacco indexes decreased 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Year-on-year, overall CPI inflation was 1.1 percent in February, compared to 1.6 percent in January (seasonally adjusted). The core rate increased 1.6 percent year-on-year, matching the rate for January. For February, not seasonally adjusted year-ago percent changes for total and core CPI were 1.1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Again, inflation remains quite low at the consumer level. The Fed likely will focus more on below target inflation than unemployment at its March 18-19 FOMC meeting.

Consensus Outlook
Consumer price index inflation slowed in January at the headline level and core inflation remained soft. Headline CPI inflation in January eased to a monthly 0.1 rise after gaining 0.2 percent in December (new seasonal factors). The CPI excluding food and energy inflation rate held steady at 0.1 percent, matching the December pace. The energy component increased 0.6 percent, following a 1.6 percent boost in December. However, gasoline declined 1.0 percent after jumping 2.6 percent in December. Food price inflation nudged up marginally to 0.1 percent from flat the month before. Within the core, upward pressure was mainly from housing, up 0.4 percent. But softness was seen in apparel, down 0.3 percent. New vehicles dipped 0.3 percent and used cars fell 0.5 percent.

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

2014 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/162/203/184/155/156/177/228/199/1710/2211/2012/17
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

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