Gwynn Guilford and Nick Timiraos reported on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal that, “U.S. inflation eased in March to its lowest level in nearly two years, but underlying price pressures likely keep the door open for the Federal Reserve to consider another interest-rate increase at its May meeting.
“The consumer-price index, a closely watched inflation gauge that measures what consumers pay for goods and services, rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from February’s 6% increase and the smallest gain since May 2021, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
“Consumers saw lower prices last month for groceries, gasoline, medical care and utilities and higher prices for shelter, airline fares and vehicle insurance, the department said.”
The Journal article noted that,
Grocery prices declined in March from the prior month, marking the first one-month drop since September 2020. Egg prices, which soared last year because of an Avian-flu outbreak, posted the biggest single-month drop since 1987.
More narrowly, the CPI report stated that, “The food index was unchanged in March. The food at home index fell 0.3 percent over the month, the first decline in that index since September 2020. Three of the six major grocery store food group indexes decreased over the month.”
The CPI report added that, “The food away from home index rose 0.6 percent in March, as it did in the previous 2 months. The index for full service meals increased 0.7 percent over the month and the index for limited service meals increased 0.5 percent.
“The food at home index rose 8.4 percent over the last 12 months…[and]…The index for food away from home rose 8.8 percent over the last year.”
Associated Press writer Christopher Rugaber reported yesterday that, “Grocery prices dropped 0.3% from February to March. The cost of beef fell 0.3%, milk 1% and fresh fruits and vegetables 1.3%. Egg prices, which had soared after an outbreak of avian flu, plunged nearly 11% just in March, though they remain 36% more expensive than a year ago.
“Despite last month’s decline, food costs are still up more than 8% in the past year. And restaurant prices, up 0.6% from February to March, have risen nearly 9% from a year ago.”
Also yesterday, Bloomberg writer Michael Hirtzer reported that, “Egg prices tumbled the most in 36 years in March, the second straight monthly decline, giving US consumers relief after months of soaring food inflation.
“Prices for eggs fell 11% for the month, according to Labor Department data released Wednesday. Coupled with declines in prices for some meat, poultry and produce products, and the index for food at home eased for the first time since September 2020.”
Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.
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