What Is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)? - TheStreet Definition

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The Consumer Price Index measures the change in cost of a representative basket of goods and services such as food, energy, housing, clothing, transportation, medical care, entertainment and education.

Source: Labor Department

Frequency: Monthly

Released when? Around the 15th of the month at 8:30 Eastern. Data for prior month.

Market importance: High. Timely. All inflation measures routinely move markets.

Other notes: (a) The "core" CPI excludes the often-volatile food and energy sectors and gives a clearer picture of the underlying inflation trend. (b) The CPI for medical care is used to help predict the benefit costs portion of the employment cost index. The CPI for gasoline is used to predict the gasoline stations portion of the retail sales report. The CPI for new vehicles is used to predict the vehicle portions of the retail sales and personal income and consumption reports. (c) The headline number is the percent change from the prior month, but we also graph the year-on-year change. That way you can see the rate at which consumer inflation is increasing or decreasing.

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