2017 Economic Calendar
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Released On 10/13/2017 8:30:00 AM For Sep, 2017
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.4 %0.6 %0.3 % to 0.7 %0.5 %
CPI - Y/Y change1.9 %2.3 %2.0 % to 2.4 %2.2 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.2 %0.2 %0.1 % to 0.3 %0.1 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change1.7 %1.8 %1.7 % to 1.8 %1.7 %

Moderation in both housing and medical costs is the dovish story behind September's consumer price report, factors that held down the core rate to a lower-than-expected 0.1 percent gain. The core excludes food and also energy which spiked a hurricane-driven 6.1 percent to lift the overall rate to an outsized looking 0.5 percent.

But it's the fundamental costs that look soft in September's report. Housing rose only 0.2 percent in the month, which is half of August's gain, with the closely watched owners' equivalent rent component slowing 1 tenth to 0.2 percent. Medical care actually went into reverse at minus 0.1 percent. Prescription drugs were very soft here, down 0.6 percent with nonprescription drugs down 1.4 percent. Apparel is also in the negative column at minus 0.1 percent to end a positive run of gains while both new and used vehicles fell, down 0.4 and 0.2 percent respectively.

Positive traction includes wireless services which have been moving in reverse most of the year though posting a 0.4 percent September rise. Recreation posted a 2nd straight 0.2 percent gain while food was a non-factor once again, up 0.1 percent.

Year-on-year rates won't be alarming the hawks at the FOMC, up 3 tenths to 2.2 percent overall but holding, for a 5th month in a row, at a subpar 1.7 percent for the core. This report, which did show pressure in August, is not showing the same pressure in September and offsets, at least to a degree, the significant signs of wage pressures in September's employment report. Today's report will soften the inflation debate at the month-end FOMC. The Department of Labor is downplaying any hurricane impacts on the report though it does note that data collection in Florida was impacted slightly.

Consensus Outlook
The 0.2 percent gain for core consumer prices was perhaps the most important economic data coming out of the month of August. Though it didn't translate into strength for the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation reading, core PCE prices, it did foreshadow an outsized September gain and upward revisions for wages (average hourly earnings). Forecasters don't see a major gain for September's core CPI, at a consensus 0.2 percent repeat, but they do see energy-related strength for the overall CPI where the consensus is 0.6 percent in what would follow a 0.4 percent gain in August that also was boosted by higher fuel costs. Year-on-year rates are expected to rise, to 2.3 percent overall in what would be a 4 tenths increase and 1.8 percent for the core in what would be a 1 tenth improvement.

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

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