2018 Economic Calendar
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Consumer Price Index  
Released On 4/11/2018 8:30:00 AM For Mar, 2018
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.2 %0.0 %-0.1 % to 0.5 %-0.1 %
CPI - Y/Y change2.2 %2.4 %2.2 % to 2.5 %2.4 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.2 %0.2 %0.1 % to 0.3 %0.2 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change1.8 %2.1 %1.9 % to 2.1 %2.1 %

Highlights
A drop in gas prices pulled down consumer prices in March which came in at Econoday's low estimate for a 0.1 percent decline. But the core rate, which excludes energy, did hit expectations at a modest 0.2 percent monthly gain with the year-on-year rate rising 3 tenths to 2.1 percent which also hits expectations.

But the gain in the yearly rate shouldn't raise any eyebrows since it reflects an easy comparison with March last year when wireless service prices started to plunge. The balance of core items in today's report is showing only limited pressure with downward pull coming from apparel, at minus 0.6 percent, and education & communications, at minus 0.2 percent.

Energy was the weakest factor in the month, down 2.8 percent with gasoline down 4.9 percent. Food is not a factor in the month, rising only 0.1 percent.

But there are some items that are showing a little pressure, at least in March. Medical care rose 0.4 percent following February's 0.1 percent decline with dental services jumping 1.2 percent. Housing is also showing pressure, though moderate, at a second straight 0.3 percent monthly gain with the closely watched owners' equivalent rent also up 0.3 percent.

This report is roughly in line with the Federal Reserve's expectations: modest pressure that is slowly building. Note that the Fed's 2 percent inflation goal is tied to its PCE index not the CPI which runs a bit hotter. But both move in the same direction which on trend continues to be very slightly higher.

Consensus Outlook
Pressures were up in January but quiet in February with the March consensus for consumer prices, held down by gas prices, especially subdued, at no change. A modest 0.2 percent increase is expected for core prices (less food & energy) with the year-on-year rate, however, expected to show visible pressure at a 3 tenths gain to 2.1 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. 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
 
[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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