C.P.I. for food, beverages climbs 0.4% in February

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Consumer Price Index for food and beverages was 209.1 in February, up 0.4% from 208.3 in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor said. The gain followed a 0.7% advance in January. Meanwhile, the index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.3% in February, before seasonal adjustment. The February level of 211.7 was 4% higher than in February 2007.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the C.P.I. was virtually unchanged in February, which followed a 0.4% increase in January. Within the overall C.P.I., the index for energy fell, as a 1.9% decline in the index for energy commodities more than offset a 1.7% increase in the index for energy services.

The index for food at home, which rose 0.9% in January, increased 0.3% in February to 207.6.

According to the B.L.S., the moderation reflected a downturn in the indexes for fruits and vegetables, for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, and for nonalcoholic beverages.

The index for fruits and vegetables declined 1.3% to 268.6. The decline followed a 2.2% increase in January. The indexes for fresh vegetables and fresh fruits declined 4% and 0.4%, respectively, while the index for processed fruits and vegetables increased 1.7%.

The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which rose 0.8% in January, eased 0.1% in February. Price decreases for pork and for poultry — down 1.4% and 0.6%, respectively — more than offset a 0.5% increase in beef prices.

Dairy products, which rose 0.2% in January, climbed 0.8% in February to 207.3.

The index for cereal and bakery products rose 1.8% to 233.3, its largest monthly advance since January 1975.

Other food at home climbed 1% to 177.9.

The index for nonalcoholic beverages, which rose 1.6% in January, fell 0.1% in February, reflecting a decline in prices for coffee.

The other two components of the food and beverage index — food away from home and alcoholic beverages — each increased 0.4%, the same as in January, the B.L.S. said.

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