Consumer Price Index again finishes lower

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The overall Consumer Price Index fell 1% to 210.2 in December, before seasonal adjustment, ending a string of two straight months of record low declines. The index declined 1.9% in November and 1% in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the C.P.I. was down 0.7% in December, its third straight decline. The energy index, which fell 17% in November and 8.6% in October, declined 8.3% in December. Within energy, the gasoline index fell 17.2% and accounted for nearly 90% of the decrease in the all items index. The index for household energy declined 0.7%.

Meanwhile, the index for food and beverages was virtually unchanged, easing only slightly to 218.915 from 218.981. In holding steady the index failed to follow up gains of 0.2% and 0.3% in November and October, respectively.

Within the index for food at home, three of the six major grocery store food groups declined.

For the fourth consecutive month, the index for fruits and vegetables tumbled, falling 2.4% to 275.7. Fresh vegetables fell 4.4%.

The next sharpest month-over-month decline occurred in dairy and related products, which fell 0.9% to 210.8. The decline came on the heels of a gain of 0.4% in November.

After falling 0.7% in November, the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs fell 0.5% in December to 208.3. Driving the decline was a 6.6% drop in the index for eggs. Despite the declines, the index remained up 5.1% for the year.

Food at home, which was unchanged in November, eased 0.4% in December to 218.6.

Cereal and bakery products, which gained 0.6% in October and 0.2% in November, rose 0.3% in December. Year-over-year, the cereal and bakery products index was up 11.7%.

Other food at home climbed 0.6% to 191.7, while the index for nonalcoholic beverages was unchanged.

The other two components of the food and beverage index — food away from home and alcoholic beverages — rose 0.3% and fell 0.6%, respectively, the B.L.S. said.

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