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CPI Consumer Price Index – Wednesday 18th March

There are two major pieces of fundamental news on the economic calendar for today in the US, first this afternoon we have the CPI figures, followed in the evening with the FOMC statement and rate announcement.

Although headline US inflation continued to decline in January – easing from -0.1% in December to -0.2% – the consensus had been looking for something even better. The overall price level rose a larger than expected 0.3% on the month, boosted by a 1.7% increase in energy prices (first rise in six months), mainly as a result of a 6.0% rise in gasoline prices. Meanwhile, having been flat in December, food prices rose by 0.1%. As a result, core prices (CPI excluding food and energy) rose a larger than expected 0.2%, mainly due to increases in rents and owners equivalent rent and bounces in new car and clothing prices. With core prices having risen 0.2% in January last year, the annual rate of change was unchanged at 1.7%. From here, with the economy already operating significantly beneath its productive potential and continuing to contract, we expect core inflation to resume its descent. However, the consensus is looking for it to hold steady in February.

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