A 0.5 percent monthly decline in energy, reflecting drops for gasoline and electricity, held down the overall rate as did food which was unchanged in the month (throwing in beverages, the result is plus 0.1 percent). Year-on-year, energy is up 4.8 percent which, though far from severe, is the highest of any major component. The yearly rate for food is up only 1.4 percent and is reminder of how low prices are right now in the farm sector.
Transportation held down September’s core, falling 0.3 percent as used vehicles dropped a sharp 3.0 percent in the month with new vehicle prices down 0.1 percent. Housing is the CPI’s largest component and is very soft, at only a 0.1 percent gain. The closely watched owners’ equivalent rent subcomponent managed a 0.2 percent gain, again subdued.
Apparel was the strongest component in September, jumping 0.9 percent after, however, three straight months of declines. This year-on-year rate is the only major component in the outright negative column, at minus 0.6 percent.
Wages may be tilting higher this year but they have yet, to say the least, to spillover into overall prices which remain remarkably flat given the strength of the economy and especially the labor market. Unless inflation does begin to show life, either perhaps in tomorrow’s import and export price report or coming CPI reports, expectations for a Fed rate hike at the December FOMC could begin to fade.