Main upward pressure came from: food (2.1 percent vs 2 percent in February), in particular food at home (1.4 percent vs 1.2 percent) and food away from home (3 percent vs 2.9 percent); shelter (3.4 percent, the same as in February); new vehicles (0.7 percent vs 0.3 percent); used cars and trucks (0.4 percent vs 1.1 percent); transportation services (1 percent vs 1.1 percent); and medical care services (2.3 percent vs 2.4 percent). In addition, energy prices dropped at a much slower 0.4 percent, compared to a 5 percent plunge in the previous month. Within energy commodities, prices of gasoline declined 0.7 percent (vs -9.1 percent in February) and those of fuel oil went down 0.4 percent (vs -2.4 percent in February). Within energy services, utility (piped) gas service cost dropped 1.4 percent (vs -2.6 percent in February) and electricity prices rose 0.3 percent, after being unchanged in the previous period. Additional falls were seen in prices of apparel (-2.2 percent vs -0.8 percent) and medical care commodities (-0.6 percent vs -1.1 percent).
The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile items such as food and energy, edged down to 2 percent in March from 2.1 percent in February, staying just below forecasts of 2.1 percent.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in March, the biggest advance since January 2018, following a 0.2 percent gain in February and beating market expectations of 0.3 percent. The energy index increased 3.5 percent in March, accounting for about 60 percent of the increase, boosted by the gasoline and electricity indexes. The food index also increased in March, with the indexes for food at home and food away from home both continuing to rise. The indexes for shelter, medical care, new vehicles, recreation, education, and tobacco were among those that increased in March, while the indexes for apparel, used cars and trucks, and airline fares all declined.