Inflation expected to be subdued as Fed focuses on fundamental CPI trends

One of the main factors contributing to May’s modest inflation is the significant drop in gasoline prices. National average prices for unleaded gasoline fell about 18 cents per gallon to $3.61, according to Gasbuddy data. This decline has eased some inflationary pressures, providing consumers with much-needed relief. Economists at Bank of America Securities noted that falling energy prices in May likely contributed to the decline in the overall CPI.

Impact on Federal Reserve Policy

Although the inflation report due in May won’t immediately prompt the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, it could pave the way for rate cuts later in the year if the trend continues. The Fed has kept its benchmark interest rate at a 23-year high to combat inflation, and plans to only consider cuts once inflation has moved steadily toward its 2% target.

Focus on underlying inflation

The Fed pays particular attention to core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, because it gives a clearer picture of underlying price trends. The median forecast suggests that core inflation will decline slightly to an annual rate of 3.5% in May, from 3.6% in April. However, certain components, such as used car prices, may have seen notable increases.

Market Forecast

Given current data and trends, the outlook is cautiously optimistic. If inflation remains subdued and gasoline prices continue to fall, the Fed may consider easing monetary policy later in the year, which could boost stock markets and ease pressure on the U.S. dollar . However, sustained vigilance on the components of underlying inflation is crucial for accurate forecasts.

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