The Economy

Fed Gets Fuel for the Tightening Argument

The consumer price index rose 0.2% in February, the largest increase since June 2014.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 24, 2015
Fed Gets Fuel for the Tightening Argument

The core consumer price index rose 0.2% in February, the first increase since October and the biggest rise since June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Tuesday.

The seasonally-adjusted increase in the all-items index was broad-based, with increases in shelter, energy, and food indices all contributing, the agency said. The energy index rose after a long series of declines, increasing 1% as gasoline prices reversed course. The food index, unchanged last month, also rose in February, though major grocery store food group indices were mixed.

Less food and energy, the CPI rose 0.2% in February, the same increase as in January, the agency said. In addition to shelter, used cars and trucks, apparel, new vehicles, tobacco, and airline fares were among those areas that increased.

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Core CPI was unchanged over the past 12 months, after showing a 0.1% decline for the 12 months ending January 2015. Over the last 12 months the food index rose 3% percent and the index for all items less food and energy increased 1.7%.

Many economists expect prices to remain weak over the next several months because of low energy prices and the strong dollar, which typically lowers import prices, according to The Wall Street Journal.

However, a modest increase in consumer prices last month could spur the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates later this year, the WSJ said.

“For the Fed, a return to positive territory for broad price measures will be a welcome development,” BTIG analyst Dan Greenhaus wrote in a note to clients, according to the WSJ. “We feel confident the Fed will go ahead and tighten policy this year, September specifically.”