US Inflation Rate at 3-Month High of 1.9%


Consumer prices in the US increased 1.9 percent year-on-year in August of 2017, above 1.7 percent in July and market expectations of 1.8 percent. It is the highest reading in three months, due to rising shelter and gasoline cost as Hurricane Harvey shut down refineries in the Gulf coast. The monthly rate went up to 0.4 percent, the highest since January and above forecasts of 0.3 percent.

Year-on-year, energy prices jumped 6.4 percent, following a 3.4 percent rise in July. Main increases were reported for gasoline (10.4 percent from 3 percent) and fuel oil (9.4 percent from 3.6 percent) while prices rose less for electricity (2.3 percent from 2.6 percent) and utility piped gas service (5.4 percent from 7.5 percent). Additional upward pressure came from shelter (3.3 percent from 3.2 percent) and transportation services (3.5 percent from 3.2 percent). Food inflation was steady at 1.1 percent while inflation slowed for medical care commodities (2.4 percent from 3.7 percent) and medical care services (1.6 percent from 2.3 percent).

In contrast, prices continued to fall for for new vehicles (-0.7 percent from -0.6 percent), used cars and trucks (-3.8 percent from -4.1 percent) and apparel (-0.6 percent from -0.4 percent).

Core inflation rate which excludes prices of food and energy remained at a two-year low of 1.7 percent, the same as in the previous three months but above market expectations of 1.6 percent.  

On a monthly basis, increases in the indexes for gasoline and shelter accounted for nearly all of the CPI increase. The energy index rose 2.8 percent as the gasoline index increased 6.3 percent. The shelter index rose 0.5 percent in August with the rent index up 0.4 percent. The food index rose slightly in August, with the index for food away from home increasing and the food at home index declining.

Excluding food and energy, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent. Along with the shelter index, the indexes for motor vehicle insurance, medical care, and recreation all increased in August. The indexes for airline fares and for used cars and trucks were among those that declined in August.  

BLS | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
9/14/2017 1:00:49 PM