According to a gauge that the Federal Reserve constantly monitors that was issued on Friday, inflation remained persistently high in April, perhaps increasing the likelihood that interest rates will increase for an extended period of time.
Excluding food and energy prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index increased 0.4% for the month, exceeding the 0.3% Dow Jones projection. This index evaluates a variety of goods and services and accounts for changes in consumer behavior.
The Commerce Department said that the gauge rose 4.7% annually, which was 0.1 percentage points higher than anticipated.
With the addition of food and energy, headline PCE increased by 0.4% and was higher than the 4.2% rate in March at 4.4% from a year ago.
Consumer spending kept up well as personal income rose, despite the higher inflation rate.
According to the data, personal income increased by 0.4% while spending increased by 0.8% for the month. Both figures were projected to rise by 0.4%.
Goods saw an increase in price of 0.3%, while services saw an increase of 0.4%. While energy prices rose 0.7%, food prices decreased by less than 0.1%. Prices for both products and services climbed annually by 2.1% and 5.5%, respectively. This is just another sign that the U.S. economy is shifting back toward one that is services-focused.
Energy costs dropped 6.3% from a year ago but food prices increased 6.9%. The PCE rose in both months at its fastest pace since January.
The announcement received minimal reaction from the markets, which were more interested in the brightening prospects for a debt ceiling agreement in Washington. Stock market futures were pointing upward. The majority of Treasury yields increased.
“With today’s hotter-than-expected PCE report, the Fed’s summer vacation may need to be cut short as consumers’ vacations fuel spending,” said George Mateyo, chief investment officer at Key Private Bank. Prior to today’s announcement, we thought that the Fed might have been planning to take the summer off (i.e., pause and evaluate), but it now appears that the Fed’s task of bringing inflation down is still ongoing.
Just a few weeks will pass before the Fed’s policy meeting on June 13–14.
Since the Fed’s annual inflation target is roughly 2%, the present levels are still significantly higher than this target, which raises the possibility that the aggressive steps the central bank has made over the past few months will hold.
The Fed’s rate increases are intended to reduce demand, among other things. The spending data for April, however, reveal that despite increased rates and high inflation, consumers continued to spend, suggesting that policymakers may still have work to do.
Following the release of the data, market pricing changed to indicate a 56% likelihood that the Fed will raise interest rates by another quarter percentage point at its meeting in June, according to the CME Group. There are only two significant inflation-related data points left until then: the consumer price index will be released on June 13 and the May nonfarm payrolls report is coming on Friday.
According to a separate Commerce Department report, demand for durable goods unexpectedly jumped 1.1% in April along with the rise in consumer expenditure. According to the Dow Jones survey of economists, a decrease of 0.8% was anticipated. New orders decreased by 0.2% when transportation was excluded (it increased by 3.7%).
Consumers had to draw into their savings to maintain their spending, as the personal savings rate fell by 0.4 percentage points from March to 4.1%.
The data are released at a time when the future direction of the economy is quite unpredictable. Given the predicted credit constraint in the banking sector, rising interest rates, and pressure from consumers on numerous fronts, there are high expectations for a recession later this year.
A study released on Thursday, however, indicated that the economy expanded more than first thought in the first quarter, with real GDP increasing at an annualized rate of 1.3% as opposed to the earlier estimate of 1.1%.
However, the real gross domestic product decreased by 2.3% during the quarter. All money spent on goods and services is included in the GDI, which often moves hand in hand with GDP. According to the Commerce Department, the two metrics combined show a 0.5% quarterly growth drop.
The goods trade imbalance, meanwhile, increased 17% in April to $96.8 billion, according to the Commerce Department’s advanced economic indicators report, which was released on Friday. Exports have a negative net impact on GDP.
However, Citigroup economists anticipate that when the Fed delivers its updates at the June meeting, it will improve its projections for inflation and GDP.
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The May Fed meeting’s minutes, which were published on Wednesday, revealed that officials were divided on what to do next as they tried to reconcile unexpectedly strong inflation with the effects of the banking sector’s problems.