Fed’s Favored Inflation Gauge Expected To Soften This Week

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell appears before the House Financial Services Comm
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

The Federal Reserve’s guidepost measure of inflation is expected to show the pace of some price increases slowed in April.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index is expected to match the prior month’s increase of 0.3 percent for the month and 2.7 percent from a year ago.

The core PCE price index, which excludes food and energy prices, is expected to rise 0.2 percent compared with a month earlier, which would be the smallest rise this year.

Compared with a year earlier, core PCE prices are expected to be up 2.8 percent, matching the March read.

Inflation surprised Fed officials and many economists by rising as the new year began, reversing some of the progress in slowing price hikes from last year. In the first quarter of 2024, the PCE price index rose at an annualized pace of 3.4 percent, a big increase from the 1.8 percent rate in the final three months of last year and the swiftest rise since the first quarter of 2023.

This change of direction for inflation forced Fed officials and markets to recalibrate expectations for interest rate cuts. At the start of the year, Fed officials expected to cut rates three times this year and markets were pricing in five or six cuts. Now Fed officials stress that rate cuts are on hold until they see several months of good news on inflation and markets are pricing in just one or two cuts.

The Fed uses the PCE price index to set its two percent target and in projections of officials released to the public. The consumer price index, which is better known to the public, was up o.3 percent in April from the prior month and 3.4 percent from 12 months earlier.


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