Category: business

Randy ShumwayU.S. Consumer Price Index. The national Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.4 percent in early spring on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

The national CPI has increased 0.9 percent over the last year, which is lower than the Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target of 2 percent.

The overall rise in CPI was driven by increases in the indexes for energy and for all items less food and energy. For the first time since November, the energy index rose as all of its major components except natural gas increased. In spite of these gains, the energy index has declined 12.6 percent over the last year.

Meanwhile, the food index decreased 0.2 percent in March, as five of the six major grocery store food groups declined. The index for all items less food and energy—a less-volatile measurement of prices—increased 0.1 percent in March, which represents the smallest increase since August. Over the last 12 months, the index for all items less food and energy has climbed 2.2 percent.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Index. The Conference Board’s U.S. Consumer Confidence Index declined 1.9 points to 94.2 in April. Although the Present Situation Index, which measures sentiment about the current state of the economy, increased from 114.9 to 116.4, the Expectations Index fell from 83.6 to 79.3. This decrease indicates slightly weaker confidence in the state of the economy six months out and led to the overall reduction in consumer confidence.

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was less favorable in April as the percentage of consumers who felt business conditions were “good” tapered from 24.9 percent in March to 23.2 percent in April. However, fewer people stated current business conditions were “bad”—down to 18.1 percent in April from 19.2 percent in March. Opinions of the labor market were also mixed: consumers who claim that jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 25.4 percent to 24.1 percent, and those who claim that jobs are “hard to get” declined to 22.7 percent from 25.2 percent.

Meanwhile, consumers are less optimistic about the future—just 13.4 percent of consumers in April expect business conditions to improve, compared with 14.7 percent in March. Perspectives about the job market are also less optimistic: consumers who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 13.0 percent to 12.2 percent.