August 20, 2014

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Consumer Price Index Decreased Slightly in June

Press Release

August 20, 2014

Salt Lake City — The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased 0.5 percent from June to July on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. July marks the first time in six months that the Zions Bank CPI has dropped, but even with this month-to-month drop, prices have increased in Utah by 1.1 percent over the past 12 months. The national Consumer Price Index, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, remained steady at 0.0 percent growth from June to July on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, and has increased 2.0 percent over the past twelve months.

Overall, transportation costs experienced the largest decrease, as car insurance packages, automobile prices, and airfare all declined from June to July. Used car prices typically peak in early summer and start to come back down as demand from the summer months begins to decrease. Airfare also decreased from June to July. Similar to used cars, airfare follows a generally predictable price schedule, peaking in the summer months of June and July when travel demand is highest and then dropping as summer vacations taper off. Gasoline prices in Utah were up in July but stayed consistent at $3.71 throughout the month. For comparison, Utahns paid an average of $3.61 per gallon of gasoline in June.

Nationally, gas prices have started to drop following the culmination of peak season, with the current national average sitting at $3.45, down from $3.58 at this same time last month. Utah typically trails the national gas price trend slightly, demonstrated by the state’s current higher gasoline price of $3.66. Prices in Utah are beginning to fall and will continue to decrease going into fall and winter. Gasoline prices remain largely unaffected by geopolitical risk in the Ukraine, Iraq, and the Middle East, as oil supply has not yet fluctuated substantially. Brent, the global benchmark for oil prices, is down 10 percent from its highs in June this year. Simultaneously, the International Energy Agency reported that global oil demand in the second quarter of 2014 grew at its lowest rate in more than two years. Minimal disruptions in oil supply coupled with consistent oil demand have contributed to stable gasoline prices.

The prices of a number of prescription drugs increased in July, causing medical care to rise 1.3 percent from last month. The recreation category, which includes pets and pet products, jumped 1.4 percent from June to July as animal vaccination and sterilization costs increased. Food at home prices were not as seriously impacted by the drought in California as expected, increasing by just 0.1 percent from June to July. The increase stemmed mainly from higher prices of cucumbers, apples, tomatoes, and bell peppers but was offset by decreases in prices for chicken and other vegetables.

Utilities increased 0.6 percent from June to July as sewer, water, and garbage rates all increased in at least one Utah city. Utilities are responsible for the greatest year-over-year price increase in the Consumer Attitude Index, having risen 9.8 percent in the past twelve months.

In other categories, housing and clothing prices remained consistent from June to July. Education and communication prices dropped 1.1 percent as cellular telephone rates decreased. Food away from home decreased 0.2 percent due to lower prices at certain full-service restaurants throughout the state. Other goods and services increased 0.4 percent as personal care products, cosmetics, hygiene products, and tobacco products increased in price.

“Despite natural and geopolitical risks, such as the drought in California and conflict in the Middle East, Utahns can continue to expect gas and food prices to follow their seasonal trends without fear of disruption,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Utah has stable prices for gasoline, food, and other necessities and has remained largely unaffected by external events.”

Analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank CPI and the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index are provided by the Cicero Group. The Cicero Group is a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City. The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index will be released August 26, 2014.

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