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Inflation cools further as Core Consumer Prices post smallest gain in over 2 years

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  • The core Consumer Price Index (CPI), which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose by just 0.3% in April, marking the smallest monthly increase since October 2021. This suggests that underlying inflationary pressures are easing.
  • The moderation in core inflation could influence the Federal Reserve's monetary policy, potentially allowing for a pause in interest rate hikes. However, with core inflation still above the Fed's 2% target, further rate increases remain a possibility.
  • While overall inflation showed signs of cooling, certain sectors like housing and gasoline continued to see price increases. Conversely, food prices remained flat, and costs for items like used cars and medical care services rose more slowly.

The latest inflation data released by the Labor Department indicates that price pressures in the United States may be starting to ease. The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose by just 0.4% in April from the previous month. This marks the smallest monthly increase since October 2021, providing a glimmer of hope in the ongoing battle against stubbornly high inflation.

"The deceleration in core prices will be welcome news for Fed officials who have been struggling to bring inflation back down to their 2% target," said Kathy Bostjancic, chief economist at Nationwide. The Federal Reserve has been aggressively raising interest rates in an effort to cool demand and bring prices under control.

While the overall consumer price index rose 4.9% from a year earlier, down from 5% in March, the moderation in core prices suggests that the central bank's efforts may be starting to bear fruit. "The slowdown in core inflation is a positive development and suggests that the Fed's rate hikes are having their intended effect of dampening demand and easing price pressures," said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

However, it's important to note that inflation remains well above the Fed's 2% target, and further progress will be needed to bring it back to more acceptable levels. "While the moderation in core inflation is encouraging, it's still too early to declare victory in the fight against inflation," cautioned Pearce.

There are some areas where price growth remains elevated, such as shelter costs, which rose 0.5% in April and accounted for nearly two-thirds of the overall increase in core prices. This underscores the persistent nature of inflation and the challenges faced by policymakers in addressing it.

As the Federal Reserve prepares for its next policy meeting in June, the latest inflation data will undoubtedly factor into their decision-making process. While the moderation in core prices may provide some relief, the central bank is likely to remain vigilant and continue its efforts to bring inflation under control.

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