Thursday, 22 February, 2018

Inflation rose faster than expected in January

Trump Budget The Trump budget is the most disturbingly irresponsible fiscal package of modern US history Credit New York Times
Preston Stone | 15 February, 2018, 16:40

In addition, while bond yields rose after the inflation data, the rates did not spike to levels that would be more worrisome for equities.

The dollar index fell 0.8 per cent, with the euro up 0.87 per cent at US$1.2457 (RM4.86).

Perhaps, this is the clue behind last night's jump on Wall Street.

Rock-bottom interest rates have driven the nine-year bull market and juiced stock prices.

Retail sales data appeared to have something of a calming effect as the data showed United States consumer activity slowed in January.

Last week the Bank of England - which raised interest rates in November for the first time since 2007 from 0.25% to 0.5% - signalled that a further hike might come sooner rather than later.

The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index increased 0.5% last month as households paid more for gasoline, rental accommodation and healthcare.

The all items index rose 2.1% for the 12 months ending January, the same increase as for the 12 months ending December. Food prices barely rose overall, but tomato prices shot up 16% compared with a year ago, the largest increase since 2014. Lower retail sales could point to lower inflation-which complicates a decision to raise interest rates. The consumer price index rose 1.6 percent year-on-year after 1.7 percent increase in December, final data from Destatis showed Wednesday.

On a month-on-month basis, the Core sub-index increased by 0.68 per cent in January 2018, higher from 0.51 per cent recorded in December.

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"We expect core inflation to rise this year, but we don't view this report alone as definitive evidence that the trend is rising", Sullivan said. The Fed tracks a different index, the personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, which has consistently undershot the central bank's 2 percent target since mid-2012.

The report increased the likelihood that the Fed will raise rates when policy-makers meet March 20-21 - even as USA retail sales posted their largest decline in 11 months.

US financial markets have been roiled recently by something neither the economy nor investors have had to contend with for the better part of a decade: concerns they may soon have to reckon with rising inflation.

Suggesting the $1.5 trillion tax package could shift forecast risks toward higher rates, and faster, about 90 percent of over 50 economists who answered an extra question said passing the cuts was wrong given unemployment is so low.

Investors shrugged off warning signs about inflation. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks increased 0.86 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major United Kingdom companies, added 0.90 percent. Potentially, consumers dismissed the January retail figures as a hangover from heavy spending during the holiday season. The BLS data is based on spending patterns of consumers and wage earners, although it excludes rural residents and members of the Armed Forces. Consumers reining in at a time of increasing inflation is not a good recipe.

The core CPI was boosted by rising rents. And home furnishings fell 0.4 percent, after a 1.1 percent drop in December.

The highest increases were recorded in prices of fuel and lubricants for personal transport and transport equipment, vehicle spare parts, accommodation services, maintenance and fix of personal transport equipment, appliances articles and products for personal care.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC surged 1.86 percent to 7,143.62. Prices of personal care products posted their biggest increase in three years. On the other hand, the indices for airline fares and new vehicles declined over the month.

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