U.S. Inflation, Trade Deficit And Real Earnings Increase

By John S. McClenahen The Consumer Price Index (CPI), one of the most closely watched indicators of inflation, rose 0.1% in June, reports the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rise was in line with most economists' expectations. The so-called core CPI -- which excludes price changes for food and energy -- also rose 0.1% in June. But that was less than May's 0.2% increase. "The core CPI would have been flat, had it not been for a 4% jump in tobacco costs," notes Maury Harris, chief U.S. economist at UBS Warburg LLC, New York. "This source of upward pressure likely will persist near term as many states are boosting tobacco taxes in an effort to closing yawning budget gaps." What's more, says Harris, "The overall CPI, now just 1.1% year over year, is more likely to edge up in the second half of [this] year, as last year's steep declines in energy price are not likely to recur . . . ." Meanwhile, as imports increased at a faster pace than exports, the U.S. goods and services trade deficit in May increased to $37.6 billion from April's revised figure of $36.1 billion, says the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. Total imports increased to $118.3 billion in May from $116.2 billion in April. Imports of goods were $98.8 billion in May, up $1.8 billion from $97 billion in April; imports of services were $19.5 billion in May, up $300 million from $19.2 billion in April. Total U.S. exports increased $600 million from April's $80 billion to $80.6 billion in May. Exports of goods were $57.3 billion in May, up $500 million from $56.8 billion in April; exports of services were $23.4 billion in May, up $200 million from $23.2 billion in April. Finally, real average weekly earnings rose 0.6% from May to June of this year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A 0.4% increase in average hourly earnings and a 0.3% in average weekly hours were partly offset by the 0.1% rise in the CPI.

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