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 COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- James W. Coons, vice president and chief economist for The Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio, said today that the small increase in the May Consumer Price Index (CPI) "puts to rest any immediate concerns about an upturn in inflation."
 The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this morning that the CPI for all items increased 0.1 percent in May, compared with an average monthly increase of 0.3 percent in the first four months of the year. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI rose 0.2 percent, versus a year-to-date average of 0.4 percent. Both measures of the consumer price level have risen more rapidly than in 1992. The all- items CPI increased an average of 0.2 percent per month last year. Excluding food and energy, the average increase was 0.3 percent.
 Higher gold prices, the sinking foreign exchange value of the dollar, and rising factory operating rates suggest that a more rapid rate of consumer price inflation may lie ahead.
 Nonetheless, Coons expects continued moderate inflation of 2.75-3.25 percent during the next 18 months. "The price of gold has not risen far enough for long enough to reliably signal an upturn in the inflation cycle," said Coons. "The dollar weakness has not been broad-based, coming mainly against the yen. And, although inflation has historically turned up when factory operating rates have neared current levels, correlation does not imply causality. In the past, steeply rising operating rates and accelerating inflation both had as their source excessive money supply growth -- a factor notably absent today."
 -0- 6/15/93
 /CONTACT: Jim Coons of The Huntington National Bank, 614-463-4467/

CO: The Huntington National Bank ST: Ohio IN: FIN SU: ECO

BM -- CL015 -- 2139 06/15/93 12:48 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 15, 1993

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