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Lower Grocery Store Bills Offset by Higher Rents in May

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), a popular measure of inflation, climbed 0.4% in May according to  today’s monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With seasonal adjustments, inflation was 0.2% in May, down from 0.4% in April. Excluding food and energy, the seasonally adjusted index climbed 0.2% in May, matching the previous month’s core inflation reading. Economists surveyed by the WSJ prior to today’s report had expected the CPI to rise 0.3% in May.

May

For the year ending in May, prior to seasonal adjustments, prices climbed 1.0%, down from 1.1% for the year ending in April.  An annual 10.1% decline in the energy index at the end of May had a significant impact on overall inflation. Energy comprises about 6.8% of the total CPI-U. The significant negative impact of falling energy prices is mostly the result of cheap gas (down 16.1% year over year and accounting for nearly 3.1% of the index). Overall food prices were up only 0.7% for the year ending in May. Excluding food and energy, prices climbed an annual 2.2% led by higher shelter and medical costs.

May Inflation

Food prices declined in May to offset higher prices for shelter, medical care and education. Food, which accounts for approximately 14% of the CPI-U is broken down into food at home (around 8%) and food away from home (about 6%). Food at home is divided into 6 major grocery store categories. The prices of food at home declined across the board in May with all six grocery store categories declining. The price of food away from home increased 0.2% in May.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

The energy index increased by 1.2% in May following a monthly increase of 3.4% in April. Gasoline accounts for nearly half of the energy index. Gas prices were up 2.3% in May following gains of 2.2% and 8.1% in March and April. Within the energy index, electricity was the only component to post a decline in prices in May, down 0.2%.

The index for all items less food and energy was up 0.2% in May, matching the growth rate in April. Shelter is the major component in this index, accounting for over 40%. The price of shelter has grown steadily in recent months and continued this trend, posting a 0.4% increase in May following increases of 0.2% and o.4% in March and April.

12-Month Inflation

For the year ending in May, the CPI-U grew 1.0% following an annual rate of 1.1% in April. Inflation remains well below the Fed’s target as the energy index continues to quell annual numbers. The price of food has also failed to spark much inflation, climbing 0.7% over the 12-months ending in May. Stripping out food and energy, overall prices were up 2.2% year over year.

Shelter prices were a major contributor to inflation for the year as the cost of rent for primary residences increased 3.8% and the index measuring owners equivalent of rent grew 3.3%. Within the shelter index, water and sewer and trash collection services saw prices grow 4.1% over the relevant year.

Medical care service costs were reportedly 3.5% more expensive in May compared to a year earlier. Higher prices for prescription drugs, up 3.3% contributed to this but were buffered by lower prices for non prescription drugs, down 1.3% for the year. Over this period, the price of health insurance also grew 6.3%.

Motor vehicle insurance costs increased 6.6% for the year ending in May, pulling the transportation services index up an annual 3.2%. Within transportation services, the cost of airline fares dropped 3.1% year over year and the index for car and truck rentals grew 4.9% annualy. Over the same period, new vehicle prices slipped o.2% and the cost of used vehicles declined 2.3%.

Inflation by Region

May’s inflation was distributed relatively equitably across the country and across different size cities. At 0.3%, inflation was slightly below the national average. Northeastern states posted slightly higher inflation in May at 0.6% compared to 0.4% in the midwest and south and 0.5% in western urban areas. For the year, inflation was significantly higher in western states at 1.5% compared to a national average of 1%.

Over the year, inflation was lowest in medium size urban areas (populations between 50,000 and 1.5 million) at 0.6%. Larger and smaller sized cities saw prices growing much faster.

Urban Population12-monthAugust
over 1.5 million1.3%0.1%
50,000 to 1.5 million0.7%0.1%
under 50,0000.8%-0.1%
Urban Regions12-monthAugust
Northeast1.1%0.1%
Midwest0.6%0.1%
South1.0%0.1%
West1.6%0.1%

Outlook

Today’s report comes on the back of the FOMC’s mid June meeting. The unanimous decision to leave rates unchanged at 0.25%-0.5% was the result of disappointing economic data, a stagnant labor market and uncertainty related to the looming possibility of Britain voting to exit the EU. The fed also lowered their interest rate projections for 2017 and 2018 but left open the possibility of another rate hike in 2016, possibly as early as next month.

Gas Prices Spark Inflation in April

Headline inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), was 0.5% in April according to today’s report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. With seasonal adjustments, prices were up 0.4%, the highest monthly rate since February 2013 and slightly above what markets had expected. A Bloomberg survey of economists showed a large range in inflation expectations for April, from 0.2% to 0.7%.

April monthly US

Overall, price levels were 1.1% higher for the year ending in April compared to 0.9% for the year ending in March. While annual inflation remains significantly below the Fed’s 2% target, core measurements suggest the US economy is slowly strengthening. Core annual inflation was 2.1% in April and 2.2% in March.

April’s Inflation

Inflation was broad based in April as the food and energy indexes both increased, as did the index for all items less food and energy. Prices at the pump were the main contributor to monthly inflation, up 8.1% with seasonal adjustments and 9.1% without adjustments. The energy index, which accounts for approximately 6.6% of the CPI-U and includes gasoline, climbed 3.4% in April.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

The price of food was up 0.2% in April following a decline of that amount in March. The index for food at home increased 0.1% while the index for food away from home was up 0.2%. Within the food index, the most notable changes in April include; the price of eggs, down 6.3% and the price of tomatoes, down 4.7%. The index for fruits and vegetables also slipped 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April after declining 1.9% in March.

The index for all items less food and energy was up 0.2% in April after increasing 0.1% in March. This measure of core inflation eliminates items with highly volatile prices and is a good indicator of underlying price trends. According the current composition of the CPI, the index for all items less food and energy represents about 79.5% of overall consumer spending.

Within the core index, prices in April were 0.4% lower for household furnishings and supplies and 0.3% lower for apparel. Over the same period, the price of medical care commodities grew 0.4%, with prescription drug prices up 0.7% and nonprescription drug prices up 0.4%. The index for medical care services was 0.3% higher as the price of visiting dentists and eye doctors both increased by 0.7% in April. The cost of health insurance was 0.4% higher, following an increase of the same amount in March.

The index for transportation services, which is included in the core index, posted a seasonally adjusted inflation rate of 0.7%. This was largely driven by a 1.2% spike in the cost of motor vehicle insurance, although prices were higher across the board within transpiration services. The indexes for new and used vehicles, which are not included in transportation services but are part of the core index, both fell by 0.3% in April.

12-Month Inflation

The CPI-U grew 1.1% for the year ending in April despite a 8.9% decline in energy prices. For the year, the price of fuel oil declined 27.5%, and gas prices were 13.8% lower. The index for energy commodities dropped 14.2% compared to the index for energy services, which was only down 3.1% year over year.

Overall, food prices were up 0.9% over the 12 months ending in April. However, the price of food at home declined 0.3% while the price of food away from home increased by 2.7%.

The index for all items less food and energy gained 2.1% for the year. Within this index, commodities (commodities less food and energy commodities) declined 0.5%. Over the same year, the price of services (services less energy services) increased by 3.0%.

Inflation by Region

Inflation was distributed equitably across geographical regions in April. Prices grew marginally more in the Northeast, up 0.6% compared to the midwest, south and west (up 0.5%, 0.4% and 0.4% respectively). However, for the year ending in April, the western states recorded significantly higher inflation than the rest of the US, 1.8% compared a national average inflation rate of 1.1%.

Inflation was also stronger in bigger cities over the year ending in April. The average inflation rate for cities with populations over 1.5 million was 1.4% compared to 0.7% for cities with populations between 50,000 and 1.5 million. Large west coast cities were a major contributor to inflation over the past year. San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles recorded respective inflation rates of 2.7%, 2.5% and 2.0% – all well above the national average.

Urban Population12-monthAugust
over 1.5 million1.3%0.1%
50,000 to 1.5 million0.7%0.1%
under 50,0000.8%-0.1%
Urban Regions12-monthAugust
Northeast1.1%0.1%
Midwest0.6%0.1%
South1.0%0.1%
West1.6%0.1%

Outlook

Today’s inflation report suggests the economy is moving in the right direction and increases the likelihood of rate hikes in the near future. Prior to today’s report, rate hikes had not been anticipated until at least December. However, there has been a lack of consensus among members the Fed regarding the current state of the US economy and the risks posed by turmoil in global markets. Today’s report suggests that the domestic economy is moving forward and tightening or raising rates to reign in growth and prevent bubbles, may be prudent. The Fed meets next on June 14th and 15th and there will likely be more agreement regarding the need to increase interest rates.

Economic Growth Fails to Spark Inflation in March

Today’s inflation data will be a disappointment to the Federal Reserve as it does not support their intention to raise interest rates in the near term. In the absence of healthy underlying price pressure, the case for economic tightening is weak. According to this morning’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation appears more sluggish than expected.

Headline inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) inched up 0.1% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis and 0.4% without adjustments. For the year ending in March, the CPI-U was up 0.9%, significantly below expectations, which were closer to 1.2% and well below the Fed’s 2% target rate.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly Inflation

Data was mixed across economic sectors in March as declining food prices largely offset higher energy prices.

march CPI

The food index fell 0.2% in March to wipe out February’s 0.2% increase in the price of food. Food at home decline 0.5% compared to an increase of 0.2% for the previous month. This is the largest monthly decline in food prices in nearly 7 years. Prices at the grocery store were basically down across the board with the index for ‘other food at home’ being the only one of the six grocery store categories to post higher prices in March. The most significant monthly declines were in prices for eggs, down 5.2% and for fresh fruits and vegetables, down 2.4%. On the other hand, the index for food away from home was up 0.2% in March.

The energy index was higher in March, up 0.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis following a 6.0% drop in February. Higher gas prices, up 2.2% with seasonal adjustments and 10.2% without adjustments, pushed the energy index into positive territory for the month. The gasoline index is still down 20.9% for the year. The transportation index (transportation commodities less motor fuel) fell 0.1% in March.

Prices for many retail consumer discretionary goods weakened in March. The price of household furnishings and supplies dropped 0.2% including a 0.8% decline in the index for appliances. The apparel index was down 1.1% for the month following an increase of 1.6% in February. Recreational commodity prices dropped 0.3% compared to a decline of 0.5% the previous month.

Prices for services pushed higher in March, the index for services less energy services was up 0.2% following three consecutive monthly increases of 0.3%. This index includes shelter, medical care services and transportation services. Shelter prices continued to rise, gaining 0.2% in March. However, the index for lodging away from home fell 1.8% for the month due to declines in hotel and motel rates.

Medical care service prices were 0.1% higher in March, cooling after two month of 0.5% growth. While the cost of health insurance increased 0.4%, most other medical care service costs slipped marginally throughout the month. Transportation services were 0.2% higher including a jump of 2.2% in the index for car and truck rentals.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

12-Month Inflation

Prices pushed up 0.9% over the 12-months ending in March, slowing slightly from 1% in February.  Core inflation (all items less food and energy) was 2.2% over the 12-month period. Food prices climbed 0.8% over this period. The cost of food at home declined by 0.5%, while the price of food away from home increased by 2.7%.

The energy index was down 12.6% year over year in March. Energy accounts for about 6.4% of the CPI-U. Energy commodity prices fell an annual 21.2% in March, including a 34.8% drop in the cost of fuel oil and a 20.9% drop in gasoline prices. The index for energy services fell 3.3% year over year.

The price of retail goods such as furniture (down 1.2%), appliances (down 3.4%) and apparel (down 0.6%) were lower for the year. The index measuring the price of toys also fell significantly, down 7.6% since March of last year. Over this period, the index for medical care commodities increased by 2.4% including an annual increase of 3.6% in the price for prescription drugs.

Regional Inflation

Across the country, inflation has been higher in cities with over 1.5 million residents and fewer than 50,000 residents compared to mid-size urban areas. Inflation has also been significantly stronger in western states over the past year. Prices climbed 1.7% in the Los Angeles area but dropped 0.2% in Cleveland year over year.

Urban Population12-monthAugust
over 1.5 million1.3%0.1%
50,000 to 1.5 million0.7%0.1%
under 50,0000.8%-0.1%
Urban Regions12-monthAugust
Northeast1.1%0.1%
Midwest0.6%0.1%
South1.0%0.1%
West1.6%0.1%

Outlook for the Federal Reserve

There is growing evidence that the US economy is on solid ground and the Federal Reserve is waiting for the opportunity to continue raising interest rates. However, raising rates without clear evidence of inflationary pressure would be imprudent. The growing domestic economy now faces headwinds from slow growth abroad, especially in China. If the dollar continues to fall, prices of imported goods will climb and inflation could tick up in the coming months. Also, oil prices will eventually rebound, which will contribute to higher rates of inflation in the US. The fed will likely wait for evidence of these price pressures before reigning in economic growth by hiking interest rates.

 

February’s Core Inflation Strengthens Fed’s Case for Rate Hikes

Headline inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U), was 1% for the year ending in February compared with 1.4% for the year ending in January. Prior to seasonal adjustments, consumer prices were reportedly up 0.1% in February and 0.2% in January. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI-U fell 0.2% in February and was flat in January.

Today’s inflation report from the BLS was slightly stronger than expected. Gas prices plummeted 13% throughout the month to easily offset price pressure in other components of consumer spending such as rent and medical care. Stripping out the impact of declining energy prices, the index for all items less energy increased an annual 2.1% and climbed 0.3% in February with monthly seasonal adjustments. Core inflation (which eliminates both food and energy) was 0.3% for the month, marginally higher than the market’s forecast of 0.2%. Core prices appear to be gaining momentum.

CPI 2 FEB

Seasonally Adjusted Prices in February

February’s 13% decline in the cost of gasoline led to a 6% decline in the energy index. The energy index, which accounts for about 6.7% of total consumer spending, declined 2.8% in January. The cost of energy services was up 0.1% in February following two monthly declines of 0.7%. The price of utility services (piped gas) was significantly higher (1%) for the month following 5 months of consecutive declines. The transportation index slid 2.5% in February. The prices of new and used cars and trucks were higher while the index for motor vehicle parts and equipment slid 0.1%.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

Every other major component of the CPI-U was higher in February after seasonal adjustments. The largest positive change was a 1.6% monthly increase in the price of apparel, which was also up 0.6% in January following 4 months of declines. In February, prices were mixed within the apparel sector with major moves in the prices for jewelry and watches, up 3.2% and 8.9% respectively.

The cost of food was 0.2% higher in February including a 0.1% increase in the cost of food away from home and 0.2% increase in the price of food at home. Notable hikes at the grocery store include the price of fresh whole chicken, up 2.2% for the month and fresh fruit, up 2.3%. At the same time, the index for bacon and related products was down 3.1% in February. The overall cost of meat declined for the third consecutive month, down 0.2%.

Shelter costs, which account for about one third of the overall price index, were 0.3% higher in February. Hotel costs and moving costs are included in the shelter index and were up 1% and 3.1% respectively. The index for household furnishing and supplies slipped 0.2% in February compared with a decline of 0.1% in January.

The medical care index was up 0.5% in February, matching January’s growth rate. The index for medical care commodities rose 0.6% in February following an increase of 0.4% in January. Higher medical commodity prices were impacted by a 1.1% monthly spike in the price of medicinal drugs. The medical care services index increased by 0.5% in February, in line with January. Health insurance was reportedly 1.3% more expensive in February following a price increase of 1.1% in January.

12-Month Inflation

Overall prices grew by 1% over the 12-months ending in February, well below both the Fed’s target inflation rate of 2% and January’s 12-month inflation rate of 1.4%. While commodity prices fell 1.6% year over year in February, the overall cost of services was up 2.6%.

Food prices rose 0.9% despite an annual decline in the cost of food at home, down 0.3%. For the year ending in February, the price of meat fell 4.8% and milk prices were down 5%, while eggs were 6% more expensive. Apples and tomatoes posted sharp gains, up 7.9% and 10.8% respectively. The index for food away from home was up 2.6% year over year, led by higher costs for food at schools

Overall medical care costs were 3.4% higher for the year. Medical services were up 3.9%, including 5.1% higher prices for hospital service costs. The transportation index fell 3.4% year over year despite a 5.1% climb in the index for motor vehicle insurance. A 12.5% annual decline in the energy index includes a 32.1% decline in the cost of fuel oil and a 20.7% decline in the price of gas.

Across the Country

For the year ending in February, large west cost cities experienced higher inflation than the rest of the country. LA and San Francisco posted annual inflation rates of 2.4% and 3.0% respectively and prices in Seattle were up 2.2%. Prices were up 0.7% in cities in the northeast, and only 0.4% in the midwest.

In February, the northeast posted 0.2% higher prices, above the national average. Prices in the midwest were reportedly flat for the month and larger urban areas in this region saw monthly declines. In Chicago, prices fell 0.2% in February.

Outlook for the Fed

Stronger than expected underlying price pressures, as indicated by February’s core monthly inflation, will support the Federal Reserve’s intention to continue increasing interest rates. While they are not likely to move rates today, the likelihood of a second rate hike in the first half of the year is growing. A strong US dollar and cheap energy has quelled inflation but these factors may be temporary. Momentum in the prices of shelter and medical care point to underlying economic strength.

Core Inflation Heats Up Unexpectedly in January

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer price levels, measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), increased by 1.4% for the year ending in January compared to 0.7% for the year ending in December. After seasonal adjustments, the CPI-U was flat in January, following a decline of 0.1% in December. Falling energy prices were largely offset by higher shelter costs for the month. CPI FEB 2Core inflation, measured by the index for all items less food and energy, climbed 0.3% in January and 2.2% for the year ending in January. This is marginally higher than the consensus expectations of 0.2% for the month and 2.1% for the year. January’s expectations were in line with December’s inflation numbers. The surprise acceleration in core price levels may reflect some underlying economic strength.

CPI USAq

Annual Inflation

For the year ending in January, inflation was boosted by higher prices for shelter, medical services and transportation services. At the same time, sliding energy prices kept overall inflation levels relatively tame. The energy index was down 6.5% for the year ending in January and every component of the index declined. Year over year, fuel oil prices fell 28.7% and the gasoline index dropped 7.3%. The index for all items less energy climbed 2% for the year ending in January.

The food index inched up 0.8% for the year masking volatility within the index. The price of food at home slid 0.5% while food away from home was 2.7% more expensive. The price for food at employee sites and schools spiked 5.2% year over year. At the grocery store, meat prices fell 4.9%; milk was 7.2% cheaper; and the price of eggs increased by 6.8%.  Fresh fruits and vegetables were 3.3% more expensive compared to a year earlier.

The cost of shelter, which accounts for approximately one third of the CPI-U, climbed 3.2% for the year ending in January and was the largest driver of overall inflation. The index for all items less shelter only grew by 0.5% year over year. Rental prices for primary residences were 3.7% higher in January compared with a year earlier. Over the same period, the index for health insurance jumped 4.8% and motor vehicle insurance climbed 5.4%.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly Inflation

Every component of the energy index fell in January for the second month in  row. Overall the energy index slipped 2.8% in January, including a 4.8% decline in the price of gas. These rates are identical to the changes in the energy and gas indexes in December. Energy and gas prices recorded marginal increases in October and November but appear to have resumed their downward path.

The food index was flat in January with all but one of the six major grocery store groups showing lower prices compared to the previous month. Fruits and vegetables cost 1.3% more in January versus December as tomato prices skyrocketed by 15.3%. The price of eggs tumbled 8.4% in January. Meat prices, particularly prices for beef and pork, also declined significantly over the month.

Shelter costs were 0.3% higher in January and helped balance falling energy prices. Other significant monthly growth was recorded for the medical care index, which climbed 0.5%. Medical insurance prices were up 1.1%. Apparel prices reversed their downward trend and rose 0.6% in January. The index for new vehicles increase by 0.3% while the index for used vehicles gained only 0.1%.

Outlook

The unexpected strength in January’s core inflation increases the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates sooner rather than later. Slow global growth and particularly slow growth in China, cheap oil and low domestic inflation have created skepticism about rate hikes this year. However, January’s annual core inflation rate of 2.2% is the highest recorded since June 2012 and is above the Federal Reserve’s target inflation rate of 2%.

Core inflation is considered to be a better gauge of underlying economic growth because the volatile, short-term price fluctuations within the energy and food components are eliminated. However, there is debate within the Federal Reserve regarding the true path of inflation and economic growth in the United States. A strong dollar drives down the price of imports, depressing inflation and higher rates will further lift the U.S. dollar. This would burden emerging economies and dampen global growth, which will impact the U.S. economy.

The Fed meets on March 15th and 16h to discuss monetary policy. It is unlikely that they will raise rates at that meeting. The futures markets are predicting that the chance of a rate hike this year is less than 40%.

 

Prices Unexpectedly Inch Lower in December

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released December’s inflation report this morning, rounding out the year with an unexpected monthly decline in price levels. Most analysts had forecast the headline consumer price index (CPI-U) would remain flat in December, instead it fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1%.

monthy cpi usaOnce again, falling energy prices weighed heavily on overall price levels; the seasonally adjusted energy index fell 2.4% in December. Food prices were also down 0.2% for the month. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, climbed a modest 0.1% in December, following three consecutive months of 0.2% growth. Most analysts had expected another increase of 0.2% in the core reading. Core inflation is considered a good indication of underlying price trends and appears to continue to creep higher. Prices for housing, a significant component of consumer spending (approximately 43%), were up 0.1% in December. Housing was the largest positive driver of inflation for the month.

Rounding out the Year

The CPI-U climbed 0.7% in 2015, following an increase of 0.8% in 2014 and 0.5% for the 12 months ending in November. This is the highest annual number recorded for the year. Prior to 2014, the US economy only recorded inflation below 1% once in over 50 years; headline inflation in 2008 was 0.1%.  The federal reserve targets an annual inflation rate of 2% so they are currently well below their target. According to the BLS, the CPI-U has increased at an average annual rate of 1.9% over the last 10 years.

Core prices climbed a healthy 2.1% in 2015 following an increase of 1.6% in 2014. Food prices were up slightly for the year but declining energy costs most impacted overall price levels. This created a large discrepancy between core and overall inflation numbers.  The energy index, which accounts for just over 7% of the total CPI-U, fell 12.6% in 2015 and 10.6% in 2014.

CPI Dev

The cost of shelter, which is about a third of the overall price index, accelerated throughout the year climbing 3.2% and significantly contributing to higher overall prices. The shelter index includes rental costs. The cost of rent for primary residence increased 3.7% in 2015 and the index measuring owners equivalent of rent climbed 3.1%. In 2015, every component of the shelter index was higher, including a spike in moving, storage and freight costs of 12.9%.

The index for food was up 0.8% for the year ending in December. Within the food industry, prices were volatile and mixed. The price for cakes, cupcakes and cookies rose 2.3% and the price of eggs was 14.8% higher. At the same time, the price of ham fell 10.5% and milk costs were down 7.9% for the year.

Seasonally Adjusted Prices in December

For the month, energy was, again, the main driver of changes in price levels. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the cost of fuel oil fell 7.8% in December while gas prices were down 3.9%. The index for transportation slid a seasonally adjusted 0.8% for the month while the cost for new and used vehicles remained flat.

The index for food fell 0.2% in December following a decline of 0.1% in November. Food at home was 0.5% cheaper for the month, the largest monthly decline since March 2015. The cost of food away from home increased 0.1% in December following an increase of 0.2% in November.  The index for meat, poultry, fish and eggs posted its largest monthly decline since 1979, falling 1.4% in December; this includes a 3.4% decline in the price of eggs.

The price of shelter continues to rise, up a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in December matching November’s increase. Medical care costs inched up 0.1% for the month, following more significant gains in October and November, 0.8% and 0.4% respectively.  The index for household furnishings and operations rose 0.2% in December. Higher prices were also recorded for motor vehicle insurance, education, used cars and trucks and tobacco. Prices declined in December for apparel, down 0.2% following 3 months of consecutive drops in the apparel index. Airline fares were down 1.1% in December after increasing significantly in October and November.

Economic Outlook

The Fed will be disappointed by today’s CPI report as policymakers are hoping for strong inflation numbers before announcing another rate hike. Following December’s hike, a second move is unlikely at least until the second half of this year.

While the US economy appears to be gaining strength in some areas, the inflation picture remains weak and wage growth is slow despite growing employment. Concerns have been raised about the impact of higher rates with inflation remaining weak. Yesterday, the IMF downgraded its forecast for global growth noting that higher US interest rates could further derail economic growth around the world. Higher rates will also slow the potential for economic growth domestically. Today’s inflation report further weakens the likelihood of any rate hikes in the next year.

“Traders are worried that shifting to higher rates at a time when inflation is stubbornly low can elevate the risk of deflation, or falling consumer prices, which can derail business activity.”

The strong US dollar will also lessen the likelihood of stronger inflation as import prices are very low. Cheap oil is also weighing on the economy both domestically and in the US. Oil prices have dropped significantly and at around $27/barrel are at their lowest level since 2003.

oil prices

 

Annual Inflation Peaks in November

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released consumer inflation numbers for November. The Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged for the month following seasonal adjustments. This is what most analysts had expected. As the chart below illustrates, net inflation since July remains flat. November saw declines in energy and food costs offset by higher prices for shelter and medical care services. For the 12-months ending in November, the headline index rose an unadjusted 0.5%, the highest annual inflation number since 2014.

monthly CPI Nov

Excluding food and energy, seasonally adjusted core prices rose 0.2% in November, which was also what most analysts had forecast. Adjusted core prices have increased by 0.2% for three months in a row and have stayed between 0.1% and 0.3% throughout 2015. For the year ending in November, core inflation was 2%.

Core vs ALL

These numbers point to underlying inflationary pressure and support the Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated rate hike, which will likely be announced tomorrow following their meeting. The Fed has kept interest rates at 0.25% since 2009.

November’s Inflation

Overall, seasonally adjusted prices were flat in November as declines in the indexes for food and energy were offset by higher prices for shelter, transportation services and medical services. The index for all items less food and energy climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in November, in line with expectations. The more volatile food and energy indexes were down 0.1% and 1.3% respectively, after seasonal adjustments.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

The monthly decline in the food index is its first drop in 8 months. The index for food at home fell 0.3% in November. Aside from fruits and vegetables, which were 0.6% higher for the month, every other component of the index for food at home fell. Prices for meat, fish, poultry and dairy products continue to decline.  However, the adjusted index for food away from home climbed 0.2% in November.

The decline in the energy index resulted from lower gas prices, down a seasonally adjusted 2.4% in November. Gas prices have been very volatile in 2015, falling over 18% in January and climbing over 10% in May. Shelter costs continue to rise steadily, up 0.2% in November following increases of 0.3% in September and October. Prices are also rising steadily in the service sectors, up 0.3% for the third month in a row. Transportation and medical care services were up 0.6% and 0.4% respectively.

Annual Inflation

For the 12-months ending in November, unadjusted prices were up 0.5% overall. The increase in overall price levels was largely driven by higher shelter costs, which account for 33.2% of the overall index. Unadjusted shelter costs were 3.2% higher over the 12-month period. The index for rental costs (primary residence) climbed 3.6% during the year, while moving expenses were 7.1% higher.

Food prices, which account for about 14% of the overall index, were up 1.3% for the year ending in November. The index for food at home, which is about 60% of the overall food index was only up 0.3% year over year. This marks its smallest annual increase in over 5 years. The prices for meat, fish, poultry and eggs are all down year over year while the prices for bread, fruits and vegetables are higher.  The index for food away from home climbed 2.7%. A significant hike (4.9%) in the index for food at employee sites and schools was the primary reason for higher costs for food away from home.

The energy index makes up approximately 7.4% of the CPI-U and about half of the energy index is energy commodities and the other half energy services. For the year ending in November, the overall energy index fell 14.7% including a 24.2% decline in energy commodities and a 2.8% decline in energy services. Among the energy commodities, the index for fuel oil had the largest decline, down 31.4% for the year. Over the same 12-months, the index for gasoline (all types) fell 24.1%.

Outlook

It is highly expected that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday. According to the Wall Street Journal, 97% of economists surveyed expect the fed to raise rates this week. This would be the first rate hike in nearly a decade as the economy and employment appear to finally be returning to solid ground.

What remains largely an unknown at this point is the pace of future rate hikes. This will largely be a function of inflation expectations.  With overall inflation continuing to lag well below the Fed’s target, the pace of future rate hikes may likely be slow. According to David Jones, chief economist at DMJ Advisors:

The stronger dollar and falling oil prices [may] have masked some underlying inflation[ary] pressures which could surface quickly as we move closer to full employment.”

Fed Funds Rate

October Inflation in Line With Expectations

The BLS released October’s inflation data this morning and there were no major surprises. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) climbed  a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in October following a decline of 0.2% in September. This is in line with consensus expectations. Year over year, the CPI-U was up 0.2% at the end of October, which is well below the Fed’s annual inflation target rate of 2%. According to a recent Federal Reserve press release:

“Inflation has continued to run below the Committee’s longer-run objective, partly reflecting declines in energy prices and in prices of non-energy imports.”

Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.2% in October, following a 0.2% increase in September. For the year ending in October, core inflation was 1.9%. Outside of the volatile energy index, which was down over 17% for the 12-months ending in October, consumer prices appear to be climbing at a steady pace only marginally below the Fed’s target.

October’s Seasonally Adjusted Inflation

October’s 0.2% climb in consumer prices was largely driven by modest increases in the energy index, which rose 0.3% following a decline of 4.7% in September. Gas prices were up 0.4% in October compared to a 9% decline in September (this still leaves gas prices down 27.8% year over year).

A 0.8% spike in the index for medical care services also helped drive October’s inflation. This includes a significant jump in the hospital services index, up 2% in October. Overall, medical care costs posted a 0.7% gain in October including a 2.3% jump in the costs of inpatient services and a 1.7% rise in the costs of outpatient services.

Four of the six major grocery store food groups saw prices rise in October. The overall food index rose a modest 0.1%, following a 0.4% rise in September. The price of fruits and vegetables climbed 0.5% in October, while the index for meat, poultry, fish and eggs fell by the same amount, despite a 3.4% increase in the cost of bacon and bacon related products. A fall of 4.8% in the price of eggs was particularly notable for the month. Breakfast cereal and butter posted strong price gains, rising 2.4% and 5.3% in October.

Shelter costs continued to climb steadily, up 0.3% in October, matching Septembers change.  Shelter costs have risen between 0.2% and 0.4% every month this year. The index for lodging away from home, up 0.8% in October, contributed significantly to higher shelter costs, .

The apparel index was down 0.8% in October. There was a large amount of variation within the index. The index for boys apparel climbed 2.9% while the index for girls apparel fell by 2.9%. Delivery services also fell in October, down 2%.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

12-Month Inflation

For the 12-months ending in October, unadjusted inflation was 0.2%. This includes a 27.8% decline in the index for energy commodities, which accounts for roughly 3.8% of the total CPI-U. The overall energy index fell 17.1% for the year. Despite the strong negative impact of energy prices, the CPI-U is marginally higher for the year.

Food prices, which account for over 14% of the overall price index, were up 1.6% year over year. Annual changes in food prices were mixed. Eggs were 30% more expensive than they were one year earlier. Over the same period, milk became 7.5% cheaper and the index for salt and seasoning rose 7.0%. Food at employee sites and schools was 5% higher for the year.

The prices of many consumer goods became cheaper over the year. The indexes for apparel and for appliances posted 1.9% and 4% declines respectively. The price of a television set has fallen 13.3% year over year, while the index for toys was down 6%. On the other hand, the cost of shelter rose 3.2% for the year with moving costs up 6.4%.

Outlook for the Fed

Most economists expect the Fed to raise interest rates in December, which would be the first rate hike in over 9 years. Today’s inflation release should not have a significant impact on these expectations. Fed fund futures are pricing in a 73.6% likelihood of a 0.25% rate hike on December 16th, which would bring the Fed Funds rate to 0.5%. The level of uncertainty around this highly anticipated hike and the pace of tightening over the coming years is unprecedented.

The modest but steady growth in the U.S. economy is in stark contrast to slowdowns in much of the world. With the EU considering quantitative easing and Japan dipping into recession, international money is flowing into the U.S. economy, driving the dollar higher. A rate hike would put further upward pressure on the U.S. dollar, which would create a slowdown in domestic manufacturing. It would also make imports cheaper, potentially keeping inflation from moving towards the target rate. The graph below shows the U.S. dollar reaching its highest level in 10 years versus a basket of international currencies. This should be a major concern at the next FOMC meeting on December 15th and 16th.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.49.13 AM

Annual Inflation Flat as Consumer Prices Decline in September

Falling gas prices kept inflation below zero for the  month of August. The BLS announced this morning that the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) fell 0.2% in September on a seasonally adjusted basis; this is in line with expectations. In August, the CPI-U fell 0.1% following 6 straight months of growth. Gas prices also drove the decline in August’s CPI-U number. September’s decline wiped out the annual gains of 0.2% that were posted at the end of August, leaving the CPI-U flat for the year ending in September.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 8.36.20 AM

The index for all items less food and energy was up 0.2% in September, following increases of 0.1% in both July and August. For the 12-months ending in September, this core index increased 1.9%, pointing to more robust underlying growth for the U.S. economy. This is the highest annual core inflation number since July 2014. As the graph above shows, the disparity between overall consumer prices and consumer prices less food and energy continues to grow.

Energy Prices

The decline in overall consumer prices in September was largely driven by falling gasoline prices, which were down a seasonally adjusted 9% in the month alone.  Over the same period, the energy index fell 4.7%, adding to August’s 2% decline. The energy index accounts for about 8% of the CPI-U and gasoline about 4%.

Volatile gasoline and energy prices have driven overall price levels and kept inflation very low over the past year. The energy index is down 9.7% for the year ending in September. Over this period, the biggest price declines were seen in the price of gasoline and fuel oil, down 18% and 18.6% respectively.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly Numbers

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI fell 0.2% in September following a decline of 0.1% in August.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

The price of food climbed 0.4% in September, adding to August’s 0.2% increase in the food index. Higher prices for dairy and fruits and vegetables, including a 4.7% spike in the price of lettuce, were somewhat offset by declines in the prices for fish and poultry. The index that measures the price of food in primary and secondary schools was 7.2% higher in September alone.

The shelter index continues to climb, up 0.3% in September, following increases of between 0.2% and 0.4% per month since the beginning of the year. In September, higher shelter costs were the result of higher prices for hotels and lodging away from home. The rent index, which is part of the shelter index, climbed 0.4% in September. Shelter costs account for about one third of the CPI-U.

The medical care index was up 0.2% in September, including increases of 0.3% for medical care services and 0.6% for health insurance. At the same time, the costs for both prescription drugs and medical equipment and supplies were down 0.2%.

Following four months of declines, the index for household furnishings and operations increased 0.4% in September despite a fall of 0.7% in the price of floor coverings. Indoor plants and flowers were significantly more expensive, gaining 2.4% in September.

The index for apparel fell 0.3% in September, following two months of gains. September’s apparel number masks volatility within the index. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the prices for men’s outerwear fell 3.9% and girl’s apparel was down 3.7%. At the same time, the price of men’s sweaters climbed 8.7%.

Annual Inflation

September’s declining CPI-U wiped out any 12-month gains, leaving overall price levels flat for the year. Higher prices for most components of the index were just able to balance the 12-month 18.4% decline in energy prices. The food index was 1.6% higher for the 12-month period and Shelter costs climbed 3.7%. Transportation services were 2.2% higher, including increases of over 5% for both car and truck rentals and vehicle insurance. Significant 12-month price hikes were also posted for animal services including veterinary services (up 4.3%), admission to sporting events (up 7.8%) and childcare and nursery school fees (up 4.2%). In general, higher prices were recorded for most services. Financial service costs were nearly 4% higher for the year, including an increase of 5.1% for tax and accounting services.

Price declines over the past year include the cost of cell phone services (down 3.8%) and the index for cell phone hardware, calculators and consumer information items, which tumbled 15.8%. Airline fares were down 6% for the year as was the price of toys. Television sets became over 13% less expensive compared to a year earlier and the price of appliances in general fell 3.5%.

Economic Outlook

Today’s inflation numbers will be watched closely as the Federal Reserve appears divided over the possibility of an interest rate hike later in the year. Stronger inflation numbers would have suggested that the economy was more robust and ready for higher interest rates. However, today’s weak inflation data, although expected, add to a series of disappointing indicators.

The Producer Price Index, a principal gauge of inflation in the manufacturing sector, declined by 0.5% in September, its weakest number in 7 months. September retails sales were also a disappointment, missing expectations at 0.1% versus the expected 0.2%. Core retail sales slipped 0.3% below the expected decline of 0.1%. The U.S. dollar has also been falling due to a disappointing jobs report in September.

The next Federal Open Market Committee meeting is October 27-28. The markets have been pricing in approximately a 39% chance of a rate hike in December. However, this number has been declining following downturns in global and emerging markets. Today’s CPI-U numbers will not reverse the trend. Rates are likely to remain unchanged until at least March of next year.

August Inflation Stifled by Falling Gas Prices

cpi gasJust ahead of the the FOMC’s two day deliberation over a potential interest rate hike, the BLS released August’s inflation data this morning. Headline inflation or the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U) fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% for the month of August, in line with economists’ expectations. This follows July’s lacklustre 0.1% CPI-U growth which was below expectations. For the year ending in August, non-seasonally adjusted overall inflation was 0.2% for the second month in  row.

Core Inflation, which excludes food and energy was up a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in the month of August.  This follows  an increase of 0.1% in July, which was driven by a spike in the cost of shelter. We continue to see a large disparity between core and overall CPI as food and energy prices remain very volitile. CPI chart

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly Numbers

In August, lower energy prices were not quite offset by higher prices for food, apparel and energy services, sending seasonally adjusted inflation below zero for the month.

Seasonally Adjusted Monthly % Change in CPI-U by Category (2016)

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly
All Items0-0.20.10.40.20.20.0
Food00.2-0.20.2-0.2-0.10.0
Energy-2.8-6.00.93.41.21.3-1.6
Gasoline-4.8-12.52.28.12.33.3-4.7
Fuel Oil (non seasonally adjusted)-6.5-2.91.71.96.23.7-1.5
Electricity-0.7-0.20.4-0.3-0.2-0.50.5
Utilities (piped gas service)-0.61.0-0.70.61.7-0.43.1
Energy Services-0.70.10.2-0.10.2-0.51.0
All Items Less Food and Energy0.30.30.10.20.20.20.1
Services Less Energy Services0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Shelter0.30.30.20.30.40.30.2
Transportation Services0.40.20.20.70.30.3-0.2
Medical Care Services0.50.50.10.30.50.20.5

The energy index was down 2.0% for the month for August due to a drop in gas prices. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the gasoline index fell 4.1% in August following 3 consecutive months of growth including a 10.4% spike in May. Before seasonal adjustments, gas prices were 5.4% lower in August (see graph below). The price of fuel oil also fell a drastic 8.1% in August adding to declines in June and July. At the same time, energy services including electricity and piped gas were more expensive in August, climbing a seasonally adjusted 0.3% and 1.2% respectively.

The index for food climbed 0.2% in August, driven by significant growth in the price of fruits, vegetables and eggs. The fruits and vegetable index was 1.5% higher for the month. The price of eggs also spiked 7.7% while the indexes for meat, fish and poultry were generally lower.

Without food and energy, which are very volatile, the index for all items or core index increased 0.1% for the second consecutive month. This includes the shelter index which continues to climb, increasing 0.2% in August following larger increases in June (+0.3%) and July (+0.4%). Growth in shelter costs continues to be a major driver of core inflation. Price increases were also seen in apparel, tobacco, alcohol, medical care commodities and non-energy services.

After falling 5.6% in July, the price of airline tickets continued to decline in August, down 3.1% for the month. Other factors keeping seasonally adjusted inflation below zero in August include declines in the prices of used cars and trucks (-0.4%), household furnishings (-0.3%) and recreation (-0.1%).

Annual Inflation

Year over year, the all items index increased 0.2% in August. The number, which has been rising since April, was also 0.2% in July. Food and shelter costs were significantly higher over both annual periods. Prior to seasonal adjustment, the price of food was up 1.6% for the year ending in August, the same as the year ending in July. Shelter costs were 3.1% higher for the 12-month period. The indexes for transportation, medical care services and non-energy services were all higher, up 2.1%, 2.2% and 2.6% respectively.

Despite higher prices in many parts of the economy, sever declines in energy prices for the year ending in August kept inflation tame. The energy index fell 15% for the year ending in August including declines in all major components. The most drastic fall was in the price of fuel oil, down 34.6% for the year. The gas index was down 23.3% and piped gas services were 11.5% cheaper for the year.

The index for all items less food and energy was in line with July, rising 1.8% over both 12-month periods. August marks the fifth time in 6 months that the 12-month change in core inflation was 1.8 percent. Annual core inflation was driven by higher prices for shelter, health care, new vehicles and recreation. While apparel, used vehicles, household goods and air travel have all posted 12-month price declines.

Outlook for the Fed

A high inflation number would have been welcome news for the Federal Reserve as it would have been a missing piece pointing to a strengthening economy and giving them the opportunity to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006. Most other U.S. economic data is more positive. Unemployment was down in August for the third consecutive month and hovering around what the Fed considers ‘full employment‘ at 5.1%. However, with inflation quite stagnant, a rate hike is unlikely this month

Emerging markets, struggling since the recent downturn in China, would be vulnerable to a U.S. rate hike. Higher rates would strengthen the U.S. dollar. Emerging markets, with U.S. dollar denominated debt would struggle to repay loans. Markets are currently pricing in a U.S. rate hike in December. Today’s inflation data was inline with expectations and will not change the market’s expectations regarding the timing of rate increases.