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US consumer prices cool in February

14 March 2019

Meanwhile, retail inflation rose to a four-month high of 2.57 per cent in February.

Gasoline prices increased by 1.5% on the monthly reading in February, but on a year-over-year basis they were down by 9.1%.

Consumer price inflation for the urban areas stood at 3.43 per cent in February 2019 against 2.91 per cent in January 2019, and 4.52 per cent in February previous year. "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".

The upward surge is likely to be welcomed by policymakers, who were alarmed by the 19-month low inflation rate of 1.97 per cent recorded last month. The upward movement was driven primarily by a sequential rise seen in various food groups, except in vegetables. The two lead indicators of IIP - primary goods (1.4 per cent) and intermediate goods (-3 per cent) - portray a weak industrial growth profile.

Excluding the volatile food and fuel categories, CPI slowed to 2.1 percent, after three months of 2.2 percent gains.

The Commerce Department's price index for personal-consumption expenditures rose 0.1% on the month in December and was up 1.7% from a year earlier-shy of the Fed's 2% year-over-year target.

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.

Most of the researchers and economists are expecting the US CPI data to print a reading of 0.2%m/m increase for the headline CPI which is due later today at 1230 GMT.

The public's inflation expectations fell in February, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's latest Survey of Consumer Expectations. The central bank also changed its policy stance from "calibrated tightening" to "neutral". It hit the United States central bank's 2% inflation target in March 2018 for the first time since April 2012. Annual wage growth jumped 3.4 percent in February, the biggest increase since April 2009, from 3.1 percent in January.

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

But consumers got some relief from healthcare costs, which fell 0.2 percent after five straight monthly increases.

US consumer prices cool in February