C.P.I. for food and beverages rises 0.8% in February

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.5% in February, before seasonal adjustment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor said. The February level of 203.5 was 2.4% higher than in February 2006.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the C.P.I. increased 0.4% in February, following up a 0.2% advance in January. Within the overall C.P.I., energy costs, which fell 1.5% in January, advanced 0.9% in February. Within energy, the index for petroleum-based energy rose 0.3% while the index for energy services increased 1.5%.

The index for food and beverages was 200.2 in February, up 0.8% from 198.6 in January. The index for food at home also rose, climbing 1.1% to 197.7.

The C.P.I. for fruits and vegetables again registered the largest gain among grocery store food products, rising 4.7% to 267.4. This followed a 1.3% advance in January.

"Anticipated smaller citrus crops for the 2006-07 season were exacerbated by adverse weather conditions in January on the West coast, resulting in sharply higher citrus prices — up 16.3% in February," the B.L.S. said.

The indexes for fresh fruits and fresh vegetables each increased 5.7%, while the index for processed fruits and vegetables rose 0.6%, the B.L.S. said.

The index for cereals and bakery products rose 1.1% to 219.1, boosted by a 3.3% gain in breakfast cereal prices, which had declined 2.4% in January.

The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was 190.4, up 0.4% from January. Beef prices increased 1.3%, while the indexes for pork and for other meats declined 0.6% and 2.9%, respectively, the B.L.S. said. Prices for poultry products rose 0.8% and prices for fish and seafood increased 0.4%. The index for eggs rose sharply for the fourth consecutive month, advancing 8% in February. During the past 12 months, the egg index has risen 29.1%.

The indexes for nonalcoholic beverages and dairy products each rose 0.2%, while the index for other food at home increased 0.3%.

The other two components of the food and beverage index — food away from home and alcoholic beverages — increased 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively, in February, B.L.S. said.

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