The BLS has released the April Consumer Price Index (CPI). Let’s take a look.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.6 percent in April, before seasonal adjustment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The April level of 214.823 (1982-84=100) was 3.9 percent higher than in April 2007.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI-U advanced 0.2 percent in April, following a 0.3 percent increase in March.

The index for energy was virtually unchanged after advancing 1.9 percent in March. In April, the index for petroleum-based energy fell 1.6 percent, offsetting a 2.5 percent increase in the index for energy services.

The food index rose 0.9 percent in April. The index for food at home increased 1.5 percent, reflecting substantial increases in all six major grocery store food groups. The index for all items less food and energy advanced 0.1 percent in April, following a 0.2 percent rise in March. Downturns in the indexes for public transportation, for household furnishings and operations, and for recreation, coupled with a larger decline in the index for lodging away from home, more than offset an upturn in the index for apparel.

click on chart for sharper image

Gasoline Prices Rose Or Fell?

During the first four months of 2008, the CPI-U rose at a 3.0 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). This compares with an increase of 4.1 percent for all of 2007. The deceleration thus far this year reflects smaller increases in the indexes for energy and for all items less food and energy. The index for energy advanced at a 6.3 percent SAAR in the first four months of 2008 compared with 17.4 percent in 2007.

Petroleum-based energy costs decreased at a 0.7 percent annual rate while charges for energy services rose at a 17.7 percent annual rate. The food index has increased at a 6.9 percent SAAR thus far this year, following a 4.9 percent rise for all of 2007. Excluding food and energy, the CPI-U advanced at a 1.8 percent SAAR in the first four months, following a 2.4 percent rise for all of 2007.

back to back paragraphs from the report…

The transportation index declined 0.7 percent in April, reflecting a 2.0 percent decrease in the index for gasoline. The index for new vehicles declined 0.2 percent and was 1.3 percent lower than in April 2007. The index for used cars and trucks declined 0.3 percent in April, but was 1.8 percent higher than a year ago. The index for public transportation declined 0.4 percent in April, reflecting a 0.5 percent decrease in the index for airline fares. (Prior to seasonal adjustment, airline fares rose 0.9 percent and were 10.1 percent higher than a year ago.)

Gasoline prices rose 5.6 percent in April. Compared to a year ago, these prices were up 20.9 percent. Gasoline prices increase seasonally during the first five months of the year, with the largest increases occurring in March and April and decline seasonally for the remainder of the year.

Housing

The index for housing rose 0.3 percent in April. The index for shelter increased 0.1 percent in April, the same as in March. Within shelter, the indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent increased 0.3 and 0.2 percent, respectively. The index for lodging away from home declined for the third consecutive month–down 1.9 percent in April. The index for household energy registered its third consecutive large increase–up 2.6 percent in April. The index for fuel oil rose 4.4 percent and was 52.6 percent higher than in April 2007. The indexes for natural gas and for electricity rose 4.8 and 1.5 percent, respectively. During the last 12 months charges for natural gas and for electricity increased 10.9 and 5.0 percent, respectively. The index for household furnishings and operations, which increased 0.5 percent in March, declined 0.1 percent in April.

Looks like we have some heavy duty “seasonal adjustment” going on in energy. The guy on the street does not believe energy prices are falling or that gasoline prices fell 2%. Neither do I. Supposedly they did “seasonally adjusted”.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here
To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List