The Zions report said that consumers can expect to see gasoline price increases in the coming months, thanks in large part to increased demand and a seasonal switch from winter blend gasoline to summer blend. The Environmental Protection Agency requires gasoline manufacturers to create a purer, more expensive blend in the summer months to prevent evaporation at a higher rate due to warmer temperatures and to help reduce smog in cities such as Salt Lake.
The Cicero Group, a market research firm based in Salt Lake City, compiles the information for Zions Bank.
Nationally, the Consumer Price Index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics increased .4 percent from January to February on a non-seasonally adjusted basis and has increased 1.1 percent over the past 12 months. Utah prices have also increased 1.1 percent during the same time period.
"As expected, gasoline prices inched higher throughout February and we are clearly in the early stages of our seasonal increase in gasoline prices," said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. "Because of this, we expect increased inflation in the months ahead on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. However, increased inflation should not be concerning, as we are still well below the ideal year-over-year inflation target of 2 to 3 percent."
Other highlights of the report included:
• Prices for pork and flour fell sharply in February, causing food at home prices to fall .5 percent.
• An increase in prices at fast food restaurants increased .2 percent in February.
• Mainly due to higher hotel rates and rental costs, housing prices increased .1 percent in February.
• Utility prices increased .3 percent, largely due to the cost of water going up.
• Clothing prices were unchanged.
• Overall transportation costs fell slightly despite the higher gasoline costs.
• Medical care costs decreased .3 percent, largely because both prescription and non-prescription drug prices declined.
• Increased cell phone plan prices meant that communication and education prices increased 1.2 percent.