Stubborn inflation

Is the fight against inflation failing – or does it get much harder towards the end?

Is progress on U.S. inflation stalling?

That’s the fear spreading through Wall Street as another inflation reading on Friday 16th February 2024 came in hotter-than-expected.  

The producer price index rose 0.3% in January 2024. The largest increase since August 2024 and higher than the 0.1% forecast. Excluding food and energy, core PPI jumped 0.5%, again well above consensus.


It is yet another sign of stubborn price pressures across the broader U.S. economy. And it came just days after an unexpectedly hot CPI reading, which gave markets a nasty jolt.  

Both data have stoked investor worries on whether inflation is firmly under control. The latest developments also reinforce the Fed’s caution that it will need to see more evidence of disinflation before committing to lower rates.

Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz chief economic advisor, posted on X that like the CPI data, the PPI report was a further indication that the last mile of the inflation battle is more complex than many had assumed (and still assume).

Some economists even argue the jump in Friday’s data will likely push January’s personal consumption expenditures price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge.

The PPI data means we can finalise our core PCE forecast for January, at 0.32%. That would be the biggest increase since September. But the three months since then all saw much smaller gains.

But investors will have to wait until later this month for PCE data when it’s released on 29th February 2024.

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