Gas fuels higher prices: Core comes in under estimates

The cost of living in the U.S. rose in June, paced by a jump in gasoline that is now reversing, bolstering Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s view that recent increases were temporary.

The consumer price index increased 0.3 percent after a 0.4 percent gain the prior month, matching median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The core measure, which excludes volatile food and fuel costs, increased 0.1 percent, less than projected.

Inflation has failed to get a toehold as slowing global demand has prevented companies from exercising pricing power. If prices remain in check, Fed policy makers can keep interest rates low well into 2015.

“Inflation, at least for the moment, isn’t a problem,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts, who accurately forecast the change in core inflation. “We had a little bit of a scare, a minute of worry for a while there, but it’s basically going away.”

Stock-index futures held earlier gains after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in September climbed 0.4 percent to 1,974.3 at 8:36 a.m. in New York. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was 2.48 percent compared with 2.47 percent late yesterday.

Survey results

Economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a 0.2 percent drop to an increase of 0.4 percent.

The increase in the core gauge was the smallest since February and followed a 0.3 percent gain in May. Economists had forecast a 0.2 percent increase, according to the survey median.

Consumer prices rose 2.1 percent in the 12 months ended June, the same as in May. The core measure climbed 1.9 percent from June 2013, after a 2 percent increase in the prior 12-month period.

Gasoline costs jumped 3.3 percent, the biggest gain since June 2013, accounting for two-thirds of the increase in total prices, today’s report showed.

Falling fuel prices are giving households some relief after costs climbed earlier this year. Crude-oil futures on the New York Mercantile exchange have averaged $102.87 a barrel this month through yesterday, compared with $105.15 in June. Nonetheless, unrest in the Middle East and Ukraine caused prices to jump since the middle of the month.

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