According to a Bloomberg News Service article which was carried in the New York Times on Wednesday, May 17 of this year, the U. S. Department of Labor reported on May 16 of this year that the price which consumers paid for a standard "basket of goods" this month was unchanged from the price which they paid for the same goods last month. The Bloomberg report said that this was "signaling that the economy was expanding with little to no inflation." Gasoline, clothing and air travel were cheaper in April than they had been in March of this year, and that made up for increases in the prices of medical care, food and housing. Bloomberg said that the unchanged prices in April had come after a 0.7% rise in March, compared with the prices in February of this year  and this was the first time that prices had not increased overall since June of last year. In a separate report, the U. S. Commerce Department reported that housing starts had increased by 2.8% to an annual rate of 1.663 million units in April, led by starts on new apartment buildings and other multiple-unit developments.This partly reversed the decline of 11.2% in starts which the Department had reported in March. April's starts were also 6.5% higher than they had been in April of last year. However, permits for future construction dropped in April, and Bloomberg said that that could signal a possible slowdoon in actual construction in the future. As for wages, the Labor Department reported that average weekly earnings adjusted for inflation had risen by 0.7% in April, following a 0.5% drop in March. Bloomberg called this "good news for home builders, which are counting on rising incomes and low unemployment to offset presently rising mortgage costs. The consumer price report, on a year-to-year basis, showed that prices had gone up by 3% since April of last year, or just slightly less than March's 3.7% rise over March, 1999. From January until December, 1999, consumer prices had risen by only 2.7%.  (SOURCE:  Article, "Retail Prices Unchanged Last Month" by Bloomberg News Service, New York Times Business Section, Wednesday, May 17, 2000, page L  C25). 

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