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U.S. Inflation Increase Slows, Markets Optimistic On Rate Hikes

While consumer prices rose 0.4% from August to September, representing a slowdown from the previous month, core inflation remained high, but this month, it was housing prices rather than gasoline that was the biggest contributor to the all-items increase. 

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.4% percent in September on a seasonally adjusted basis. That is a lower increase than August’s 0.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Thursday. 

The biggest contributor, shelter, accounted for over half of the increase, while the gasoline increase was the second-largest contributor to September’s inflation increase. The overall energy index rose 1.5% for the month.  

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3% in September, the same as in August. 

The all items index increased 3.7 percent for the 12 months ending September, registering no change from August, while the all items less food and energy index rose 4.1% over the past 12 months, while the energy index saw a 0.5% decrease for the same time period, the BLS said. Thursday’s CPI numbers have added to optimism that the Federal Reserve may leave interest rates unchanged following 11 hikes originally proposed last spring. 

Hawkish Fed governing board member Christopher Waller said on Thursday that “we’re in this position where we can kind of watch and see what happens. If core inflation stays as low as it has in recent months, we’re pretty much back to our target,” Politico reported. 

Last week, data showed that economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector contracted for the 11th consecutive month in September. While still showing contraction, however, the readings were more optimistic than previous months. 

While gasoline prices have been declining statewide for three weeks, low distillate inventories in the U.S. have tightened the diesel market during harvest season, and heading into winter. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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