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Zions Consumer Price Index Increased in May

Press Release

July 23, 2014

Salt Lake City — The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.6 percent from May to June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Over the last twelve months, prices have increased in Utah by 1.8 percent. The national consumer price index, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, increased 0.2 percent from May to June on a non-seasonally-adjusted basis and has increased 2.1 percent over the past 12 months.

Overall, transportation costs increased 1.8 percent in Utah from May to June as vehicle prices increased. Airfare was also higher, due in part to increased summer travel. In addition, increased gasoline prices continued to contribute to higher transportation costs. On average, Utahns paid $3.61 per gallon of gasoline in June, up slightly from an average of $3.59 in May, indicating that gasoline prices are beginning to even out prior to their expected seasonal decrease toward the end of the summer and into autumn. The average price for a gallon of gasoline in Utah currently stands at $3.71, which is up from $3.57 at this time last month, according to AAA.

Nationally, gas prices have dropped over the last month, with the current national average sitting at $3.57, down from $3.68 at this same time last month. New sanctions announced by the U.S. against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine as well as conflicts in Iraq are expected to impact oil supply and prices, but the impact is likely to be felt gradually rather than immediately. Changes in the performance of oil prices will likely depend on Libya and the timing of its re-entry into the oil supply market after unrest essentially halted exports a few months ago. It may take a few weeks for Libya’s oil terminals to be fully operational again, which means the oil supply from Libya is unlikely to increase noticeably in the short term, having minimal effect on prices, though Libya’s reentry could help stabilize supply in the face of conflicts in Iraq and the Ukraine.

Food at home prices increased 0.5 percent from May to June due to higher meat and produce prices. Poultry prices in particular have increased this month, following three months of price decreases. Tomato prices rebounded to their previous levels following a price drop in May. The ongoing drought in California will likely continue to impact fresh produce prices, although potentially at less-significant levels than have been feared in the short term. Many of California’s important vegetable crops will continue to be watered by groundwater. The main concern for the future of California’s crops lies in the long-term viability of the groundwater reserves.

Housing prices increased 0.2 percent from May to June as hotels and motels raised their rates. Hotel and motel prices increased 2.25 percent from May to June, which is expected as demand for temporary lodging increases due to increased travel associated with summer vacations. These rates demonstrate a 0.9 percent increase in housing prices from one year ago. Furniture and bedding prices remained constant from May to June while appliance prices dropped for the third consecutive month.

In other categories, utility prices rose 1.3 percent from May to June as natural gas rates increased slightly. Education and communication prices rose 1.2 percent as land line and cellular telephone rates increased. Food away from home increased 0.1 percent due to higher prices at certain fast food restaurants throughout the state. Clothing and medical care prices remained steady from May to June. Recreation prices decreased 0.1 percent thanks to decreases in prices for pets and pet products. Other goods and services, including tobacco products and personal care products, decreased in price by 0.2 percent.

“Consumers can expect to have a little extra cash in their pocketbooks as gas prices continue to stabilize through the summer and begin to drop off in the fall,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “June’s two-cent gas price increase from last month is in line with current price indicators and historical trends, and the rest of the economy is growing at a healthy rate.”

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 July 29.

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