Saturday, 23 March, 2019

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in February

Retail inflation climbs to 2.57%, factory output decelerates to 1.7% Consumer Inflation Rises To 2.57% In February
Priscilla Morrison | 14 March, 2019, 16:37

The CPI report showed prices of new vehicles fell for the first time in four months, while used-car prices dropped 0.7% from January, the biggest drop since September. This should make the FOMC comfortable with its recent decision to be patient on monetary policy, and await clearer signs on how slower global growth and weaker confidence shows up in domestic data in the months ahead.

High food prices have led to a four-month high in retail inflation that rose to 2.57 per cent in February. The surge is also higher as compared to the consumer inflation in January, recorded at 1.97 per cent. After a minus 2.33 per cent slump in January, it has now recovered to -0.66 per cent.

The Fed has a 2 per cent target for a separate inflation gauge from the Commerce Department that's linked to consumer spending.

Price pressures in the core (excluding food and energy) were a little softer than expected, up only 0.1% in February.

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However, weakening fuel prices masked increases in the costs for food and shelter, medical care, according to the Labor Department report. Gas prices for U.S. drivers were $2.31 a gallon on average in February, up from $2.25 in January, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Prices of cereal and products went up at 1.32 per cent. Core prices were up 2.1% on the year, a pace last matched in October. That index tends to run slightly below the Labour Department's CPI, and January figures are due March 29.

The core sector had slowed for three straight months and the December IIP was at a 19-month low of 1.8 percent. The core CPI had increased by 2.2 per cent for three consecutive months on an annual basis.

In a wide-ranging interview with CBS's 60 Minutes television news programme, Fed chair Jerome Powell on Sunday reiterated the central bank's wait-and-see approach to further monetary policy tightening in 2019. A decline in core goods prices (-0.2% m/m) was the culprit behind the softness in core inflation.

Prices of fruits (-4.62 per cent) and vegetables (- 7.69 per cent) continued to decline in February. Annual wage growth jumped 3.4% in February, the biggest increase since April 2009, from 3.1% in January.

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