2008 inflation rate at 0.1%, slowest gain in 54 years for consumer prices

The annual rate of U.S. inflation plunged to 0.1% in 2008, with consumer prices driven down by falling energy prices. The cost of living dropped for Americans as prices dipped for the third straight month, and showed the slowest 12-month gain since 1954, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the most closely watched gauge for inflation, fell by 0.7% in December after dropping 1.7% in November. Economists had expected the number to come in at 0.8%.

"Overall inflation has already declined significantly and appears likely to moderate further," Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in a Jan. 13 speech in London that was reported on Bloomberg.com.

"At this point, with global economic activity weak and commodity prices at low levels, we see little risk of inflation in the near term."

Plummeting energy prices was the headliner again. The energy index fell 8.3% and led in the CPI’s decline by accounting for almost 90 percent of the decrease in the all items index. Continue reading 2008 inflation rate at 0.1%, slowest gain in 54 years for consumer prices

Inflation rates and CPI data updated for January 2009

The US Inflation Calculator is updated with the newest data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday, January 16.

The annual rate of inflation in December crawled to just 0.1%, according to the government’s report. The declining trend began back in August when the rate was 5.4%. September followed with 4.9%, October at 3.7% and November at 1.1%.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined 0.7% in December from the prior month. November consumer prices fell a record 1.7%.

In addition to the Inflation Calculator tool using the latest figures for calculation, the following pages have been updated: Continue reading Inflation rates and CPI data updated for January 2009

Producer prices fall 1.9% in December, driven by lower energy costs

Producer prices fell for the fifth consecutive month in December, as tumbling energy prices again led the decline, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday.

The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures prices at the factory door and inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, fell 1.9%.

The December drop was in line with many expectations, yet slightly lower for other economists who forecasted a fall matching November’s 2.2% decline. The index registered its biggest monthly decline ever in October by falling a record 2.8%.

"The recession will continue through most of the year, and in this environment, producer prices can only move downward," Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, was quoted at Bloomberg.

The energy index fell 9.3 percent in December after plummeting 11.2% in November and 12.8% in October, which set a 22-year record. Crude goods fell 5.3 percent compared to November’s 12.5% decline and October’s 18.6% drop. Continue reading Producer prices fall 1.9% in December, driven by lower energy costs

Fed December minutes paint darker economic picture, lower inflation

Minutes taken during the closed-door Federal Reserve December 15-16 meeting paint a darker than expected picture for the economy, with further contraction and rising unemployment on the horizon.

At the conclusion of its historic meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) slashed rates to a record low of between zero and 0.25%. The minutes, which provide much more detail and are always released several weeks after the official meeting, cite specific expectations reaching into 2009 and 2010. Continue reading Fed December minutes paint darker economic picture, lower inflation