WASHINGTON — August CPI data did little to illuminate the price picture, showing instead that inflation remains in a narrow range at slightly under 2%, a very good result.
August CPI posted a 0.1% gain, and core rose 0.1% (0.127% unrounded), perhaps a little better than expected. These resulted in a 1.5% increase overall and a 1.8% jump in core as over-the-year rates.
Energy prices fell 0.3%, breaking a string of three gains, as gasoline (off 0.5% before adjustment), electric, and natural gas prices fell. Fuel oil costs rose 1.2% after a 1.1% gain in July.
Food posted a 0.1% increase as fruits and vegetables and meats rose but beverages fell. "Other Food at Home" costs — for processed foods, exotic items and the like — fell 1.0%, its largest drop since 2002.
In core, new vehicles were flat and insurance and airfares fell, holding down the total. Apparel was up 0.1%. Medical care grew 0.6%, with hospital services rising 1.9% (but up 1.5% over the year). Owners' equivalent rent was 0.2% higher.
The 12-month change in core CPI over the year has remained in a range of 1.6% to 2.3% since June 2011. This illustrates that inflation remains very subdued.
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