2017 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Price Index  
Released On 9/14/2017 8:30:00 AM For Aug, 2017
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.1 %0.3 %0.3 % to 0.4 %0.4 %
CPI - Y/Y change1.7 %1.9 %1.8 % to 2.1 %1.9 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.1 %0.2 %0.1 % to 0.2 %0.2 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change1.7 %1.6 %1.6 % to 1.8 %1.7 %

For the first time since February, core consumer prices did not come in below expectations, hitting the consensus with a modest but useful 0.2 percent gain. Overall prices rose 1 tenth more than expectations at an energy-inflated 0.4 percent.

Looking first at core readings, housing, which is the report's dominant component, has been moderating but picked back up in August to a 0.4 percent gain. Within housing, lodging away from home reversed July's unusual plunge with a 4.4 percent surge while owners' equivalent rent rose 0.3 percent. Wireless telephone services have been very weak this year but contraction eased in August, to only a 0.1 percent decline. Prices for new vehicles were flat, used vehicles dipped 0.2 percent, while transportation services, reflecting a 1.0 percent jump in insurance, rose 0.4 percent. When including motor fuel, transportation costs rose a very sharp 1.4 percent.

Energy costs, in part reflecting month-end pressure from Hurricane Harvey, jumped 2.8 percent with gasoline up 6.3 percent. Food was not a factor in August showing a 0.1 percent rise.

Year-on-year rates are mixed with overall prices up 2 tenths to 1.9 percent but the core holding flat at a subpar 1.7 percent. Despite lack of progress in the core, August results are not a disappointment and will definitely heat up support for the beginning of balance-sheet unwinding at next week's FOMC.

Consensus Outlook
Econoday's consensus is calling for a needed uptick in consumer prices, to a monthly consensus gain of 0.3 percent in August vs only a 0.1 percent rise in July. Higher energy prices, which were on the rise even before Hurricane Harvey hit at month end, are expected to provide the lift as the consensus for the core rate, which excludes energy and also food, is for only a 0.2 percent gain vs July's 0.1 percent rise. Year-on-year readings have been very soft, at only 1.7 percent for both July's headline and the core with August's consensus at 1.9 percent overall but only 1.6 percent for the core. Holding down prices has been moderation in housing costs and also declines in vehicle prices and especially communication costs.

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

2017 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/182/153/154/145/126/147/148/119/1410/1311/1512/13
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

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