Thursday, 21 March, 2019

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
Laurie Berry | 14 March, 2019, 16:37

Excluding the volatile energy and food categories, core prices increased 0.1 percent in February and 2.1 percent from a year ago.

The low level of inflation also gives the Federal Reserve more flexibility in holding off on further increases to a key short-term interest rate, enabling the US central bank to provide support for economic growth.

The falling price of energy drove USA consumer inflation in February to its slowest annual pace more than two years, according to government data released Tuesday.

India's retail inflation picked up in February but remained within the central bank's comfort zone while factory output weakened in January, which may give enough space for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut policy rates on 5 April.

"We expect core CPI to print another solid 0.2% m/m increase, leaving the annual core inflation rate unchanged at 2.2% y/y". "Core inflation has been stuck at just above 2%, but there have been some signs that price pressures are building under the surface, with core goods prices rising sharply".

Despite a rise in crude oil prices, fuel and light inflation is likely to be muted due to natural gas price softening.

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On Tuesday, February's CPI data will be released. The key shelter category rose 0.3% in February, and is up 3.4% on a year-on year basis.

In the 12 months through February, the core CPI rose 2.1%. That index tends to run slightly below the Labor Department's CPI, and January figures are due March 29.

What matters here is that inflation has remained muted and is now handily under that 2.0% to 2.5% range that has been within the Federal Reserve mandate with some slight changes over time.

"With nothing in the outlook demanding an immediate policy response and particularly given muted inflation pressures, the [Federal Open Market] Committee has adopted a patient, wait-and-see approach to considering any adjustment in the stance of policy", Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said during a speech in Stanford, Calif., last week. The core CPI had increased by 0.2% for five straight months.

US 30-year bond yields were slightly down at 3.031 percent, from 3.032 percent on Monday. The consumer-price index follows the Labor Department's latest employment report, which showed average hourly earnings for private-sector workers rose 3.4% in February from a year earlier, a pace last matched in April 2009. Clothing prices plunged 1 percent in February, while new-auto prices slipped 0.2 percent. Food consumed at home rose 0.4 per cent last month, boosted by more expensive dairy products, fresh vegetables, cereals and meat.

But prices for new motor vehicles, used cars and trucks, as well as recreation fell.

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