Consumer Price Index rises for third straight month

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The overall Consumer Price Index climbed 0.2% in March to 212.7, its third consecutive month of gains, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the C.P.I. fell 0.1 in March, primarily reflecting a decline in the energy index. The energy index, which rose 3.3% in February, fell 3% in March. All the energy indexes decreased, especially the indexes for fuel oil, natural gas and motor fuel.

Meanwhile, the index for food and beverages again eased 0.1%, falling to 218.8 from 219.1. The index is now at virtually the same level as October 2008, the B.L.S. noted.

Within the index for food at home, the sharpest month-over-month decline again occurred in dairy and related products, which fell 2.4% in March to 199.7. The decline came on the heels of a loss of 2.4% in February, 0.6% in January, and 1.1% in December. Milk declined 4.4% after falling 5.7% in February.

The second sharpest decline occurred in meats, poultry, fish and eggs, which decreased 0.9%, the fifth straight monthly decline. Within the segment, the index for eggs fell 4.6% and the beef index declined 1.4%.

Cereal and bakery products eased 0.2% to 253.9, while food at home eased 0.4% to 217.2.

Posting a gain during the month was the fruits and vegetables index, which rose 0.2% to 275.8. The gain followed up an increase of 0.4% in February.

Other food at home was virtually unchanged at 192.4, while the index for nonalcoholic beverages rose 1%.

The other two components of the food and beverage index — food away from home and alcoholic beverages — each rose 0.1%, the B.L.S. said.

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