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The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.5 percent in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.2 percent before seasonal adjustment.

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CPI Basket

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Falling prices are good. They make more things affordable and improve standards of living. Illiterate writers bemoan good things.

The Econoday writer, robot, or parrot (I am not sure which) does not see it that way.

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.

Summary

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Energy prices help keep the CPI "subdued" this month but contributed to 2.2% year-over-year gains. Vehicle prices are slumping month-over-month and year-over-year.

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