Just about all the readings in the May consumer price report point to very soft price pressures with the overall monthly gain, at plus 0.4 percent, and the ex-food ex-gasoline core gain, at only plus 0.1 percent.
The 0.4 percent overall gain may look a bit high compared with prior months including April’s 0.1 percent rise, but it reflects an unsurprising jump in energy costs specifically gasoline which jumped 10.4 percent in the month. But energy prices are still very low, confirmed by the year-on-year rates which for all energy products are down 16.3 percent and for gasoline, down 25.0 percent.
But the look at the year-on-year rates shows one element of pressure, a plus 1.7 percent rate for the core. This is down from 1.8 percent in April but is still skating a bit close to the 2.0 percent hawk barrier at the Fed. The overall year-on-year rate, however, is as benign as can be at zero percent.
Components of note include a second month of declines for apparel, down 0.5 percent in May after falling 0.3 percent in April which is not good news for the nation’s retailers. Education & communication also fell, down 0.1 percent. Showing pressure is a 2.7 percent rise for transportation that reflects a jump in airfares. This follows, however, a 0.3 percent dip in transportation for April. Food costs and housing costs show no increase in May.