US inflation data comes in slightly lower than was widely expected, boosting stocks and other risky assets.
Annualized inflation in the United States has fallen by just 0.1% down to 4.9% in the year to April, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS said that this was the smallest 12-month rise in inflation recorded since April two years ago. Also, it’s the tenth successive month that annualized inflation has fallen since yearly prices reached 8.5% last July.
The United States CPI rose month-on-month in April by 0.4%. This was at a faster pace than in March when prices rose by 0.1% from the figures for February.
Inflation has declined by a small margin despite the BLS payroll figures for April that were better than anticipated, with an extra 253,000 jobs created. Yet payroll data for March was revised downwards to 165,000 jobs that were added, in contrast to the original figure of 236,000 new positions.
Many analysts will not be surprised by what the BLS has revealed, as the general view was that inflation would remain steady over the year to April.
The Cleveland Federal Reserve forecasted that annualized inflation would be slightly higher at 5.16%, while month-on-month, it was thought that prices would increase by 0.6%.
Looking to June, it predicted that annualized inflation would fall, but again by only a slender margin from the current BLS figure, down to 4.4%. Month-on-month inflation is anticipated to ease with a rise of only 0.2%.
The Federal Reserve will be keeping a watchful eye over these developments, a week after raising interest rates by 0.25% to 5.25%. It was hinted in a statement after the rate rise announcement that there was potential for a policy adjustment away from the current rate raising cycle. Yet it remains to be seen if such a marginal drop in annualized inflation will be enough to convince them to at least pause interest rates, at the Federal Open Market Committee’s next meeting on 14 June.
Shelter, Cars, and Gasoline Drive Prices
The shelter index rose by 0.4% and was the largest contributor to the monthly increase in prices, even though this had declined from the 0.6% rise that was seen in March compared to the previous month.
Higher rents were the main factor behind the latest rise in shelter prices. It was also a major reason why core inflation, the price index of all items excluding food and energy, remains at a stubbornly annualized high of 5.5% after a 0.4% increase from March to April.
Used cars and truck prices increased by a significant 4.4% month-on-month. Overall, the energy index increased by 0.6% in April.
In the year to April, gasoline fell by 12.2%. Utility gas prices have also fallen by an annualized 2.1%, a reflection of gas prices that have fallen globally since the autumn of last year according to the World Bank.
There was more positive news over food prices, which were unchanged from March to April. The food at home index fell by 0.2% for last month, after a
0.3% decrease in March.
Overall, the food index has grown by an annualized 7.7%, but encouragingly has not increased over the period of a year since February.
Treasury Bond Yield and US Dollar Both Fall
The United States 2-Year Treasury yield decreased immediately in the aftermath of the inflation announcement, perhaps in reflection of the monthly CPI increase.
Before the data was released the yield was 4.062%, which then collapsed down to 3.929%.
The US Dollar also fell and depreciated by 0.63% against the Japanese Yen with the USD/JPY currency pair buying ¥134.40. The greenback fell against the Euro and the British Pound.
The NASDAQ 100 Index gained firmly by more than 1% to reach its highest price seen since August 2022.
ING believes that the current Capitol Hill impasse over the $31.4 trillion debt limit increase could work in the US Dollar’s favor. There is now a growing concern that sell-offs might be needed, to break the negotiation deadlock between President Biden and Republican congressional leaders.