The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.0% in the 12 months to February, matching the increase in January.
Lower gasoline prices continued to be the largest downward contributor to the CPI on a year-over-year basis in February, posting a 21.8% decline. However, February’s decline was smaller than the 26.9% year-over-year decrease observed in January.
Excluding gasoline, the CPI increased 2.2% on a year-over-year basis in February, following a 2.4% rise the previous month.
On a non-seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the gasoline price index rose 9.4% in February, following seven consecutive declines. This increase was the largest in almost eight years. Despite the monthly gain in February, gasoline prices were 27.7% below their June 2014 peak.
Prices rose in seven of the eight major components in the 12 months to February. Higher prices for food led the rise in the CPI, followed by increased shelter costs. The transportation index, which includes gasoline, declined on a year-over-year basis for the fourth consecutive month.
Food prices advanced 3.9% in the 12 months to February. Prices for food purchased from stores were up 4.3% on a year-over-year basis in February, after rising 5.4% the previous month. Price gains for meat (+12.4%), fresh vegetables (+8.4%) and fresh fruit (+3.5%) contributed the most to the February increase, although these gains were smaller than in January. Prices for food purchased from restaurants rose 2.8% year over year in February.
The shelter index rose 1.8% on a year-over-year basis in February. Natural gas prices increased 10.8% in the 12 months to February, while the cost of homeowners’ home and mortgage insurance rose 8.6%. Consumers also paid 3.8% more for electricity. In contrast, prices for fuel oil declined 23.4% in February compared with the same month a year earlier.
Transportation costs fell 5.0% in the 12 months to February, following a 5.3% decrease the previous month. In addition to paying lower prices for gasoline on a year-over-year basis in February, consumers paid 1.0% less for the purchase of passenger vehicles. February marked the first year-over-year decrease in the purchase of passenger vehicles index since May 2013.