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For several years, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) report has been something of a snooze.One of the defining aspects of this post-crisis period has been how subdued inflation has been. And there’s virtually never been anything in any inflation reading that would cause the Fed to get nervous. There was some commodity-related inflation at one point, that Bernanke infamously characterised as “transient”, and he turned out to be totally correct on that.
But lately the economy has gathered steam. Wage growth is getting some traction. And talk of a Fed exit has grown a bit. So suddenly inflation measures start to matter a bit more.
Today we get February CPI.
Millan Mulraine at TD Securities previews it:
Today, the focus will shift to the monthly CPI and industrial sector reports. Similar to the strong gains in the PPI report, we expect higher gasoline prices to be the main driver for consumer prices in February, with the expected 7% m/m surge in prices at the pump pushing the headline CPI index up 0.6% m/m. This will be the biggest monthly gain in this index in almost four years, and on a year-ago basis the pace of headline inflation should accelerate to its fastest pace since September. Core prices should also rise, though at a more modest 0.2% m/m pace, following a similar gain the month before, even as the annual pace of core consumer price inflation remains unchanged at 1.9% y/y. Despite the sharp rise in gasoline prices, the overall tone of this inflation report should reinforce the benign inflationary backdrop, which will continue to be supportive to the Fed’s accommodative policy stance.
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