April 13, 2017 01:45 CDT

Consensus Actual Previous
Month over Month 0.6% 0.6% 0.6%
Year over Year 1.1% 1.1% 1.1%

The flash CPI was unrevised in the final data for March. Prices still show a 0.6 percent increase on the month and a 1.1 percent annual inflation rate, down just a tick from February.

The HICP was similarly unrevised, leaving a 0.7 percent monthly rise and a 1.4 percent yearly gain that matched its final February print.

The dip in the headline yearly rate was essentially attributable to energy, where inflation dropped from 11.4 percent in February to 9.9 percent, and food, where the rate declined from 1.6 percent to 0.8 percent. Overall manufactured goods inflation actually rose from minus 1.6 percent to minus 1.0 percent while services were stable at 1.1 percent. The core CPI was up a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent versus February and, at 0.4 percent, its yearly rate was also a couple of ticks firmer than last time. However, this was still well short of the 0.7 percent annual rate posted in January.

The final March data offer no new insights into French inflation. The more volatile components certainly weighed on prices but Easter distortions probably provided a boost to the yearly rate. Underlying trends remain soft.

The consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of the average price level of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. Monthly and annual changes in the CPI represent the main rates of inflation. The national CPI is released alongside the HICP, Eurostat's harmonized measure of consumer prices. A flash estimate was released for the first time in January 2016 and is now published towards the end of each reference month.

The consumer price index is the most widely followed indicator of inflation. An investor who understands how inflation influences the markets will benefit over those investors that do not understand the impact. In countries where monetary policy decisions rest on the central bank's inflation target, the rate of inflation directly affects all interest rates charged to business and the consumer. As a member of the European Monetary Union, France's interest rates are set by the European Central Bank.

France like other EMU countries has both a national CPI and a harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP). The HICP is calculated to give a comparable inflation measure for the EMU. Components and weights within the national CPI vary from other countries, reflecting national idiosyncrasies.

Inflation is an increase in the overall prices of goods and services. The relationship between inflation and interest rates is the key to understanding how indicators such as the CPI influence the markets - and your investments. As the rate of inflation changes and as expectations on inflation change, the markets adjust interest rates. The effect ripples across stocks, bonds, commodities, and your portfolio, often in a dramatic fashion.

By tracking inflation, whether high or low, rising or falling, investors can anticipate how different types of investments will perform. Over the long run, the bond market will rally (fall) when increases in the CPI are small (large). The equity market rallies with the bond market because low inflation promises low interest rates and is good for profits.