Wall Street managed to avoid drowning in $2 a gallon gasoline and $4 a gallon milk this week, but stock prices were swamped by both.
As prices of crude oil, gasoline futures and gas at the pump all hit record highs today, Wall Street paid little attention to the Consumer Price Index report showing inflation moving up a modest 0.2 percent last month.
Energy prices are moving more than that every day -- crude climbed 3.6 percent this week -- making the statistics generated by the government less relevant than the sighs muttered every time people fill their tanks.
The CPI is often a market-mover, but not today as most stocks barely budged.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 2 points to 10,012.87, ending the week off more than 104 points.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index fell less than a point to 1,095.70, down 3 points for the week.
Hurt by disappointing profits at Dell Computer, the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index dropped 22 points to 1,904.25 for a 13 point weekly loss.
The Dow's loss was about 1 percent, the other indexes' only a fraction of a percentage point, but the retreats continued the trend -- down three weeks in a row for all three indexes.
The markets continue to be dominated by worries about energy prices and inflation.
Today's CPI report didn't show much inflation last month, but during the past year prices have gone up 2.3 percent inflation, the Labor Department report showed.
One reason the CPI didn't have much impact is that the official data showed a paltry 0.1 percent increase in energy prices last month. Statistical kinks were blamed for underreporting of the one price that many people follow most closely and that is clearly having economic impact.
As gasoline prices have risen, sport utility vehicle sales have slowed, reports from car makers show. The latest to complain about fuel prices are the airlines, which report jet fuel has gone up even more than gasoline, compounding the woes of the struggling airline industry.
Business is so competitive for the airlines that they can't pass on fuel price increases.
It's no better in the dairy business. Bloomberg reported today that Pappa John's pizza has the same problem -- it is being forced to absorb higher cheese prices, which will hurt profits. The Panera Bakery chain said it is raising menu prices as dairy costs climb and even Starbucks lamented the rising cost of putting cream in latte.