2017 Economic Calendar
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Released On 8/11/2017 8:30:00 AM For Jul, 2017
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
CPI - M/M change0.0 %0.2 %0.1 % to 0.2 %0.1 %
CPI - Y/Y change1.6 %1.8 %1.7 % to 1.8 %1.7 %
CPI less food & energy- M/M change0.1 %0.2 %0.1 % to 0.3 %0.1 %
CPI less food & energy - Y/Y change1.7 %1.8 %1.7 % to 1.8 %1.7 %

Consumer prices remain very soft, failing to match what were modest Econoday expectations for July. Total prices edged 1 tenth higher in July as did the core (less food & energy) which are both no better than the low estimates. Year-on-year rates are also at the low estimates, at 1.7 percent each. Moderation in housing costs remains a major disinflationary force, inching only 0.1 percent higher for a yearly 2.8 percent which is down 2 tenths from June. And wireless services, in keeping with the telecom revolution, continue to move lower, falling 0.3 percent on the month for a yearly decline of 13.3 percent.

Vehicle sales have been weak this year and it's being reflected in prices which fell 0.5 percent in the month. Lodging away from home is another major negative in the July report, falling a record 4.2 percent as motels and hotels cut prices. On the plus side, apparel prices, which had been on a long negative streak, rose 0.3 percent though the year-on-year rate remains in the negative camp at minus 0.4 percent. Medical care is a plus in the report, rising 0.4 percent for the second straight month with the year-on-year rate, however, edging lower to 2.6 percent. Energy prices are a negative in the report, at minus 0.1 percent, offset by a 0.2 percent rise for food.

Is the dip in inflation the result of one-time effects that will soon pass? Or is it the result of weak wages and general global disinflation? Lack of inflation remains the central trouble in the Federal Reserve's policy efforts. Today's results will not be improving expectations for the beginning of balance-sheet unwinding at the September FOMC.

Consensus Outlook
Econoday's consensus isn't calling for much needed strength in consumer prices, at a monthly consensus gain of 0.2 percent in July vs no change in June. The yearly rate is seen slipping to 1.8 percent from 1.9 percent. Less food & energy, the rate is also seen rising a monthly 0.2 percent vs June's gain of 0.1 percent with this closely watched yearly rate also called at 1.8 percent which however would be up from June's 1.6 percent. Though this report has been tipped lower by declines in cell phone services, fundamental prices including housing costs have been slowing.

The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the change in the average price level of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. Monthly changes in the CPI represent the rate of inflation for the consumer. Annual inflation is also closely watched.

The consumer price index is available nationally by expenditure category and by commodity and service group for all urban consumers (CPI-U) and wage earners (CPI-W). All urban consumers are a more inclusive group, representing about 87 percent of the population. The CPI-U is the more widely quoted of the two, although cost-of-living contracts for unions and Social Security benefits are usually tied to the CPI-W, because it has a longer history. Monthly variations between the two are slight.

The CPI is also available by size of city, by region of the country, for cross-classifications of regions and population-size classes, and for many metropolitan areas. The regional and city CPIs are often used in local contracts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also produces a chain-weighted index called the Chained CPI. This measures a variable basket of goods and services whereas the regular CPI-U and CPI-W measure a fixed basket of goods and services. The Chained CPI is similar to the personal consumption expenditure price index that is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve Board.  Why Investors Care
It is always a good idea to look at more than a few months of data to get a sense of changes in established trends. Monthly changes in the CPI are mainly volatile because of sharp fluctuations in food and energy prices. The core CPI eliminates the sharper fluctuations.
Data Source: Haver Analytics
Yearly changes tend to smooth out more severe monthly fluctuations and give a better idea of the underlying rate of inflation. Even with the smoother trend, note that the core CPI does not fluctuate as much as the total CPI.
Data Source: Haver Analytics

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