US: Inflation Stronger Than Expected in March

US: Inflation Stronger Than Expected in March

Consumer inflation in the United States increased higher in March, according to data released by the government on Wednesday. 

This increase in inflation reduces the chances of the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates soon. According to the Labor Department, the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March rose to 3.5 percent, up 0.3 percentage points from February. Furthermore, a carefully watched inflation index, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, increased by 3.8% yearly.

Stocks fell after the revelation, as Treasury rates rose sharply.

The increase in the all-items index was driven by higher shelter and energy expenses.

Energy prices jumped 1.1% after rising 2.3% in February, while housing expenses, which account for almost one-third of the CPI, increased by 0.4% on the month and 5.7% year on year. Expectations for shelter-related costs to fall this year have been crucial to the Fed’s argument that inflation will slow enough to allow for interest rate decreases.

Food costs rose 0.1% for the month and 2.2% year on year. There were some significant advances in the food area, however.

The White House is also sure to be dissatisfied by these inflation estimates, since Republican critics of President Joe Biden may try to blame the high costs on his administration, perhaps jeopardizing his re-election hopes.

Chair Jerome Powell has stressed the importance of Fed members being convinced that inflation is steadily falling toward the 2 percent objective. This focus highlights the significance of monthly inflation figures in deciding the timing and magnitude of any future rate increases, which might affect borrowing rates for businesses and consumers as well as stock market performance.

Economists have long predicted that lower market-rate rents will assist to reduce shelter inflation and overall inflation (the CPI’s assessment of shelter prices is delayed due to the BLS’s data collection process and the natural lag effect of annual lease signing).

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