2018 Economic Calendar
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CPI  
Released On 3/13/2018 8:30:00 AM For Feb, 2018
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.5 %0.2 %0.1 % to 0.4 %0.2 %
CPI - Y/Y change2.1 %2.2 %2.1 % to 2.3 %2.2 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.3 %0.2 %0.1 % to 0.3 %0.2 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change1.8 %1.9 %1.8 % to 2.0 %1.8 %

Highlights
Last week's average hourly earnings did in fact set the pace for February's inflation readings, and the word is subdued. The CPI and the core CPI both managed only 0.2 percent increases as was expected with the year-on-year rates at 2.2 percent overall, which was also expected, but at only 1.8 percent for the core which is 1 tenth under Econoday's consensus.

A give back in transportation costs held down prices in February with the component unchanged following a strong gain in January. New vehicle prices fell 0.5 percent in the month with used car prices down 0.3 percent, both echoing flat consumer demand for vehicles. Communication costs were also weak with wireless telephone services, which began to jump about this time last year, down 0.5 percent in the month. Medical care fell 0.1 percent in the month with recreation flat.

Showing price strength for a second month is apparel led in February by men's apparel and especially apparel for boys. Housing rose 0.3 percent in the month though the closely watched owners' equivalent rent subcomponent gained only 0.2 percent.

Prices are not risking extra vigilance from the Federal Reserve. Until wages get moving, overall inflation may very well continue to run flat with only the slightest hint of upward pitch.

Consensus Outlook
Indications of price pressures for wholesalers and importers have yet to appear in force in consumer prices . Though the prior report for January did show higher costs for basics, only a limited increase is expected for February's core rate (less food & energy) which is seen up a modest 0.2 percent with the year-on-year expected to rise 1 tenth to 1.9 percent. The consensus for the headline CPI is also a monthly gain of 0.2 percent for a yearly rate that is also seen up 1 tenth, to 2.2 percent.

Definition
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
 
[Chart]
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
 
[Chart]
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
 
 

2018 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/122/143/134/115/106/127/128/109/1310/1111/1412/12
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov
 


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