Stocks are lower after consumer prices rose more than expected in January.
While everyone is used to higher gasoline prices and higher medical costs - up 0.8% - prices have been rising in other areas as well. Some of this reflects higher raw material costs, as with higher grain costs and rising food prices, but much of it simply reflects the fact that the economy remains relatively strong and companies have pricing power.
Here are some sectors that saw noticeable jumps in inflation:
--Food prices, up 0.7%: According to Tony Crescenzi at Miller Tabak, this matches the largest gain seen since December 1994 when prices rose 0.8%. Food and beverage prices account for 15% of the consumer price index, much more than the 8.7% weighting for energy prices. Companies like Tyson Foods have warned for months that higher grain prices (corn for ethanol) will be forcing them to raise prices.
--Airfares, up 2.1%: Jet fuel costs have been dropping recently, but demand remains strong
--Hotel costs, up 1.1%: Marriott and others report very strong business and vacation demand.
--Residential rents, up 0.4%: Up for an eighth consecutive month. Rents continue to be buoyed by weak home-buying activity. In other words, renting is seeing an increase in demand. Higher demand is an indication that the soft landing is indeed real.