By Manuel Gutierrez, Consulting Economist to NKBA
The consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.4 percent in February, close to the average monthly increase seen over the last six months. Year over year, the CPI registered a 6.0 percent increase. The pace of annual inflation slowed down, with the annual CPI growth almost half a percentage point lower than January’s annual increase of 6.4 percent.
- Core inflation — which excludes the more volatile energy and food prices — pointed to faster inflation in February. Core prices increased by 0.5 percent, higher than the previous two months when they grew by 0.4 percent each month. Core inflation has risen over the last four months.
- Consumer prices for housing products and services also rose by 0.5 percent in February. This was slightly higher than the overall CPI increase, but lower than the 0.7 percent average of the previous 12 months. On an annual basis, the housing CPI grew by 8.2 percent, a shade below the 8.3 percent recorded in January — yet these two months have seen the highest annual increase since 1982.
- Among product categories closer to some of our members’ businesses, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers price data for three products: Appliances, Windows and Flooring. Annual inflation for Appliances rose to just 1.6 percent in February, up from 1.4 percent the previous month. For major appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers, which are more dependent on new housing construction, annual inflation was down 5.9 percent. In contrast, prices for other appliances such as microwaves were up 6.2 percent from a year earlier.
- Window prices were down 3.3 percent in February, following an increase of 5.8 percent in January. Yet, annual inflation increased over the last four months — rising to 2.4 percent in November 2022, 3.2 percent in December 2022, 7.2 percent in January of this year, and, finally, to 9.7 percent in February.
- Prices for Flooring products went up by 0.3 percent in February, bringing annual inflation to 8.4 percent. As high as it may seem, however, annual inflation was nearly 15 percent lower than it was just six months ago.