Consumer Inflation Ticks Higher in March

InflationThe Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the month of March did not follow the exact same gains as last week's Producer Price Index. That generally takes two months or even more before producers and wholesalers can pass on the costs directly to consumers. A Tuesday report from the Labor Department showed that inflation at the consumer level rose by 0.2%.

March's inflation reading showed a gain of 0.2% for both the headline CPI and the core CPI, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors. Bloomberg had the estimates as a gain for 0.1% on both readings. Dow Jones also was expecting 0.1%.

Energy prices were tame, with a 0.1% decline as gasoline was down by 1.7%, but food prices did come into play with another gain of 0.4% for the month.

Where this story gets more interesting is in the FOMC's inflation target of 2.0%. Prices are measured on a monthly change in the headlines, but the year-over-year change was up by 1.5% in March from 1.1% for February.

The FOMC's 2.0% target, and up to a 2.5% upper band, has not come close to being hit at this point. As long as inflation remains this low, it is less and less likely that the voices calling for a more rapid rate hike policy to end the zero-rate environment will be able to get much of a say in the matter.

Filed under: Economy
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