April 15, 2004
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.5 percent in March, following an increase of 0.3 percent in February.
Energy costs advanced sharply for the third consecutive month—up 1.9 percent in March. Within energy, the index for petroleum-based energy increased 5.0 percent, while the index for energy services decreased 1.4 percent.
The index for food rose 0.2 percent in March, the same as in February. The index for all items less food and energy, which rose 0.2 percent in February, increased 0.4 percent in March.
The index for housing rose 0.3 percent in March. Shelter costs, which rose 0.1 percent in February, increased 0.6 percent in March, largely as a result of a 3.8-percent advance in the index for lodging away from home.
For the first three months of 2004, consumer prices increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 5.1 percent. This compares with an increase of 1.9 percent for all of 2003. The index for energy, which rose 6.9 percent in 2003, accelerated in the first quarter of 2004, advancing at a 38.6 percent SAAR and accounting for about half of the first quarter advance in the overall CPI-U.
For the 12-month period ended in March, the CPI-U rose 1.7 percent, as shown in the chart.