Consumer prices rose just 1.7% in 2012

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WASHINGTON — The Consumer Price Index rose 1.7 percent in 2012 after a 3.0 percent increase in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was the third smallest December-December increase of the past 10 years and compares to a 2.4 percent average annual increase over the span.

Energy prices plateau

♦ The energy index increased 0.5 percent in 2012, a sharp deceleration from its 6.6 percent increase in 2011. 

♦ The gasoline index rose 1.7 percent in 2012 after increasing 13.8 percent in 2010 and 9.9 percent in 2011.

♦ The household energy index declined in 2012, falling 1.1 percent after increasing 1.8 percent in 2011.

♦ The fuel oil index rose 3.6 percent in 2012, but the electricity index decreased 0.5 percent and the index for natural gas fell 2.9 percent, the fourth straight year it has declined.

Food prices

♦ The index for food rose 1.8 percent in 2012, a deceleration from its 4.7 percent increase in 2011.

♦ The index for food at home rose 1.3 percent in 2012 compared to 6.0 percent in 2011. 

♦ Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes rose in 2012, with increases ranging from 0.5 percent (dairy and related products) to 2.0 percent (other food at home). The nonalcoholic beverages group was the only index to decline, falling 0.2 percent.

♦ The index for food away from home rose 2.5 percent in 2012 after increasing 2.9 percent in 2011.

Other items

♦ The index for all items less food and energy decelerated slightly in 2012, rising 1.9 percent after a 2.2 percent increase in 2011. This matches the average annual increase of 1.9 percent over the past 10 years.

Several indexes decelerated in 2012

♦ The apparel index, which rose 4.6 percent in 2011, increased 1.8 percent in 2012.

♦ The index for new vehicles increased 1.6 percent in 2012 after rising 3.2 percent in 2011, and the medical care index rose 3.2 percent in 2012 after a 3.5 percent increase the prior year.

♦ The index for used cars and trucks turned down in 2012, falling 2.0 percent after increasing 4.0 percent in 2011.

Stronger housing costs

♦ In contrast, the shelter index accelerated in 2012, rising 2.2 percent after a 1.9 percent increase in 2011.

♦ The index for rent rose 2.7 percent and the index for owners’ equivalent rent increased 2.1 percent.

December numbers

♦ Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.

♦ The gasoline index declined again in December, but other indexes, notably food and shelter, increased, resulting in the seasonally adjusted all items index being unchanged. Gasoline was the only major energy index to decline; the indexes for natural gas and electricity both increased.

♦ Within the food category, five of the six major grocery store food groups increased as the food at home index rose for the third consecutive month. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in December, the same increase as in November.

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