Consumer prices this past week fell more than expected. October inflation was 3.2%—essentially flat. Lower gasoline prices helped, and higher shelter costs hurt. But digging deeper into the report provides some interesting—even strange—details.
Start with food prices, which rose 0.3% in October. Certain food items stuck out. The price of uncooked beef roasts increased 4.1% from September, while pork chops rose 3.5%. According to Department of Agriculture reports, cattle and hog inventories have been declining recently. Meanwhile, prices for apples dropped a whopping 7.9%.
Food wasn’t the only funky result. Prices of laundry equipment slid 5%, while photographic equipment and supplies grew 6.8%. Women’s outerwear fell 5.9%. But wrapping the coat will cost more, as stationery, stationery supplies, and gift-wrap prices rose 3.5%. And tickets for sporting events jumped 3.6%. “These are things that could be affected by seasonal factors,” says Raymond James’ chief economist Eugenio Aleman, noting that the National Hockey League began its regular season on Oct. 10, and the National Basketball Association, on Oct. 24.
Most items aren’t heavily weighted in the total report, says Aleman. “There are some that are so small in the overall CPI that basically it’s probably not affecting much of the direction of overall core CPI,” he says. Still, when it comes to inflation perception, as opposed to reality, consumers may differ with the economists.
Write to Angela Palumbo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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agreed to sell 77% of its coal assets to Swiss-based