Another Key U.S. Inflation Index Declines

Showing the same downward movement that the Producer Price Index for finished goods displayed in May, the U.S. Labor Department's Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell one-tenth of a percentage point in May. It was the first monthly decline of this year and followed a five-tenths percent increase in April, a six-tenths gain in March and a four-tenths increase in February. "Energy costs, which advanced sharply in each of the preceding three months, declined 2% in May," noted the department when it reported CPI numbers on June 15.

The so-called core CPI, which does not include price changes for food and fuel, rose just one-tenth of a percentage point in May, less than economists generally expected.

"Looking beyond the energy sector, prices are generally subdued," says Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business in College Park. "In May,surges were noted, for example, in some consumer items such as toys, TV sets, air fares, and admissions to concerts, sporting events and movies. [However,] these were offset by more moderate inflation for many food items and lower costs for most transportation services, reflecting lower gasoline prices," he relates. "Overall inflation, while not dormant, is under control."

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