Energy prices dropped 0.5 percent, following a 1.7 percent gain in the previous month. Within energy commodities, gasoline cost declined 0.2 percent (vs 3.1 percent in April) while fuel oil went down 0.8 percent (vs -0.9 percent in April). Within energy services, electricity prices retreated 0.2 percent, after rising 0.6 percent in the previous period, while utility (piped) gas service cost dropped 2.6 percent (vs -1.9 percent in April). Declines were also seen in cost of apparel (-3.1 percent vs -3.0 percent) and medical care commodities (-0.7 percent vs 0.2 percent).
Food inflation accelerated to 2.0 percent in May from 1.8 percent in April, due in particular to food at home (1.2 percent vs 0.7 percent) while costs of food away from home rose at softer pace (2.9 percent vs 3.1 percent). Meanwhile, inflation was unchanged for transportation services (at 1.1 percent) and slowed for shelter (3.3 percent vs 3.4 percent); new vehicles (0.9 percent vs 1.2 percent); and used cars and trucks (0.3 percent vs 0.8 percent).
The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile items such as food and energy, edged down to 2.0 percent in May from 2.1 percent in April, also below market consensus.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices gained 0.1 percent in May, easing from a 0.3 percent advance in April. The food index rose 0.3 percent while the energy index fell 0.6 percent. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent for the fourth consecutive month. The indexes for shelter, medical care, airline fares, education, household furnishings and operations, and new vehicles all rose in May. The indexes for used cars and trucks, recreation, and motor vehicle insurance were among those that declined over the month.