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April 1997

Consumer prices for energy and food accelerated in 1996

Todd L. Wilson

Cold winter weather, low petroleum inventories, and high grain costs drove the increases in energy and food prices in 1996. However, decelerating prices for other goods and services contributed to record-low underlying inflation. The Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for All Items increased 3.3 percent in 1996, following a 2.5-percent advance in 1995. The 1996 rise was the highest annual rate of increase since a 6.1-percent advance in 1990. Accelerations in energy and food prices were major factors behind the rise in the overall index. Excluding food and energy prices, the (underlying) CPI-U increased only 2.6 percent.

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