Energy prices surged 1.7 percent, reversing a 0.4 percent fall in the previous month. Within energy commodities, prices of gasoline jumped 3.1 percent (vs -0.7 percent in March) while those of fuel oil went down 0.9 percent (vs -0.4 percent in March). Within energy services, electricity prices advanced 0.6 percent, after rising 0.3 percent in the previous period, while utility (piped) gas service cost dropped 1.9 percent (vs -1.4 percent in March). Additional upward pressure came from: medical care commodities (0.2 percent vs -0.6 percent); transportation services (1.1 percent vs 1 percent); new vehicles (1.2 percent vs 0.7 percent); and used cars and trucks (0.8 percent vs 0.4 percent).
Meanwhile, food inflation slowed to 1.8 percent from 2.1 percent in March, due in particular to food at home (0.7 percent vs 1.4 percent) while costs of food away from home rose faster (3.1 percent vs 3 percent). Inflation was unchanged for shelter (at 3.4 percent) and medical care services (at 2.3 percent), while apparel prices continued to fall (-3.0 percent vs -2.2 percent).
The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile items such as food and energy, edged up to 2.1 percent in April from 2 percent in March, matching market consensus.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in April, easing from a 0.4 percent gain in March, which was the biggest advance since January 2018. Energy prices continued to increase sharply (2.9 percent vs 3.5 percent) due to gasoline (5.7 percent vs 6.5 percent) and fuel oil (1.3 percent vs 2.1 percent). By contrast, food costs dropped for the first time since June 2017. Excluding food and energy, the indexes for shelter, medical care, education, and new vehicles all rose in April. The indexes for used cars and trucks, apparel, and household furnishings and operations were among those that declined over the month.