2014 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Price Index  
Released On 4/15/2014 8:30:00 AM For Mar, 2014
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.1 %0.1 %0.0 % to 0.3 %0.2 %
CPI - Y/Y change1.1 %1.5 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.1 %0.1 %0.1 % to 0.2 %0.2 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change1.6 %1.6 %
CPI - level235.169 index level
Core CPI - level236.122 index level

Consumer price inflation warmed up a bit in March, topping expectations at the headline and core levels. Headline inflation firmed to a 0.2 percent rise after posting a 0.1 percent rise in February. Analysts expected 0.1 percent. Increases in the shelter and food indexes accounted for most of the headline increase. Excluding food and energy, CPI inflation also rose to 0.2 percent from 0.1 percent the prior month. Market expectations were for 0.1 percent.

The energy component eased 0.1 percent after declining 0.5 percent in February. Gasoline fell 1.7 percent in both March and February. Food price inflation, however, continued strong with a 0.4 percent jump in each of the latest two months.

Turning to the core rate, besides the 0.3 percent increase in the shelter index, the indexes for medical care, for apparel, for used cars and trucks, and for airline fares also increased. The indexes for household furnishings and operations and for recreation both declined in March.

Year-on-year, overall CPI inflation was 1.5 percent in March, compared to 1.1 percent in February (seasonally adjusted). The core rate increased 1.6 percent year-on-year, matching the rate for February. For March, not seasonally adjusted year-ago percent changes for total and core CPI were 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Consumer price inflation firmed in March, but it was for just one month-not yet setting a trend. Within the Fed, the hawks likely will point to the stronger numbers while the doves will say it is too early to say that inflation is up to the 2 percent goal. Meanwhile, driving is cheaper and eating is more expensive.

Consensus Outlook
The consumer price index remained quite soft in February at the headline and core levels. Headline inflation posted at 0.1 percent, matching the pace in January. Similarly, the CPI excluding food and energy inflation rate held steady at 0.1 percent, equaling the January pace. 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. However, unexpectedly strong PPI numbers for March likely raised projections for the CPI. The PPI for total final demand jumped 0.5 percent in March, well above the Econoday consensus for a gain of 0.1 percent. Total final demand excluding food & energy rose even more, up 0.6 percent after falling 0.2 percent the month before.

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. That is the index shows the change in price levels since the index base period, currently 1982-84 = 100. Monthly changes in the CPI represent the rate of inflation.  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

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