Consumer Price Index falls at record pace in October

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The overall Consumer Price Index fell 1% in October to 216.6, before seasonal adjustment, the sharpest month-over-month drop in the index since the U.S. Department of Labor began tracking data in 1947. The overall C.P.I. was dragged down by steep declines in the energy index coupled with drops in the apparel index, airline fare index and index for lodging away from home.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the C.P.I. was down 1% in October. The energy index again took a hit, falling 8.6% in October after declining 1.9% in September and 3.1% in August. The motor fuel index fell 13.9%, while the gasoline index fell 14.2%. The index for household energy declined 0.9% in October after falling 3.4% in September.

Meanwhile, the index for food and beverages rose 0.3% in October to 218.6. Despite the gain, five of the six grocery store food groups decelerated in October.

The index for food at home, which rose 0.8% in August and 0.6% in September, increased 0.1% in October to 219.7. The slower growth marked the first time in five months that the gain was less than 0.6%. The index was 7.5% higher than in October 2007.

For the second consecutive month, only two of the categories within food and beverages declined. And for the second straight month, those declines occurred in dairy and related products (down 1%), and fruits and vegetables (down 2.2%).

The sharpest gain occurred in the index for nonalcoholic beverages, which followed up a 0.7% gain in September by climbing 1.2% in October.

Cereal and bakery products, which gained 1.1% in September, rose 0.6% in October. Year-over-year, the cereal and bakery products index was up 12.5%.

The index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 0.6% to 210.7.

The index for dairy and related products fell 1% to 211.9. The decline followed a decline of 0.6% in September.

Fruits and vegetables also eased, falling 2.2% to 283.8. The loss comes on the heels of a 0.5% loss in September. Despite the declines, the category remains up 8.3% since October 2007.

Other food at home climbed 0.6% to 189.3.

The other two components of the food and beverage index — food away from home and alcoholic beverages — both increased 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively, the B.L.S. said.

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