Inflation – as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) – was unchanged in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, this index – often called ‘headline’ inflation – has increased just 1.2 percent.
Energy prices overall fell 1.0% in the month, aided by a 1.6% drop in the price of gasoline. Food prices were up just 0.1% and shelter costs increased 0.3%.
Holders of TIPS and I Bonds watch the unadjusted CPI-U, which is used to set the inflation-adjusted interest rate on TIPS and future interest rates on I Bonds. This unadjusted number was -0.2% in November, but remains 1.2 percent for the last 12 months.
‘Core inflation’ – stripping out food and energy – rose 0.2% in November and 1.7% over the last 12 months. This is the number most watched by the Federal Reserve, which has set an implicit goal of 2.0% for annual inflation and a ‘danger level’ of 2.5%.
Today’s numbers still leave the door open for the Fed to continue economic stimulus, a hot issue at today’s Fed meetings.
This chart of the seasonal-adjusted CPI-U shows the dramatic slowdown in inflation since the middle of 2013: