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Market Update

5 Early Warning Signs of Inflation

Utility stock prices, commodity prices, and wages are among the early indicators, says John Waggoner.

If you ever want to get lots of nasty comments online, all you have to do is mention that consumer prices in the U.S.--including food and energy--have fallen 0.2% in the 12 months ended April 30. You'll get howls of protest from people who eat food (up 2%), enjoy shelter (up 3%), or need medical care (up 2.6%).

Whatever your personal rate of inflation is, however, it's the government's consumer price index that matters for investors, at least in the short to intermediate term. In particular, it's the consumer price index that excludes food and energy that garners the most attention on Wall Street. (For the record, that's up 1.8% the past 12 months.)