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US Inflation Rises Unexpectedly to 3.2%

US inflation for February climbed at an annualized rate of 3.2%. This was higher than expected and the US Dollar is showing considerable volatility following the inflation release.

  • The US consumer price index (CPI) climbed 3.2% year-on-year in February, up from 3.1% in January and above the market estimate of 3.1%.
  • On a monthly basis, CPI rose 0.4%, above the January gain of 0.3% and matching the market estimate of 0.4%.
  • The increase in inflation was mainly due to energy costs, such as gasoline, falling less than expected.

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    Core CPI, which excludes food and energy and is considered a more reliable gauge of inflation trends, ticked lower to 3.8% year-on-year in February, lower than the 3.9% gain in January but overshooting the market estimate of 3.7%. Monthly, core CPI remained steady at 0.4%, above the market estimate of 0.3%. The indices which increased included shelter, clothing and recreation.

    The inflation report is significant in that the Federal Reserve meets next week. It’s a virtual certainty that the Fed will hold the benchmark rate at 5%-5.25% for a fifth straight meeting and the burning question is when the Fed will start to lower rates. The markets have priced in an initial rate cut in June at around a 70% probability, with the Fed and the markets currently in sync in projecting three rate cuts by the end of 2024.

    In January, the markets had priced in six rate cuts this year, beginning in March, but the surprisingly strong US economy and pushback from the Fed has forced investors to slash rate cut expectations.

    The Fed can be expected to remain cautious about lowering rates, if no other reason than that inflation remains well above the Fed’s 2% target. Although the Fed’s steep rate tightening has done a good job of taming inflation, there is the constant concern that lowering rates too soon could allow inflation to rebound, which would then require raising rates yet again – a scenario that Fed policymakers are keen to avoid.

    US Dollar Volatile, Stock Markets Edge Higher After Inflation Report 

    The US dollar is showing strong volatility against all the major currencies in the aftermath of today’s inflation release. The EUR/USD currency pair swung as much as 0.40%, the GBP/USD currency pair moved 0.49% and the AUD/USD currency pair swung 0.80%. We could see continuing volatility in today’s North American session.

    The US stock market is in positive territory following today’s inflation report. The Nasdaq 100 Index is up 68 points (0.38%) at 18,017 and  the S&P 500 Index is up 17 points (0.25%) at 5131.

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    Kenny Fisher
    About Kenny Fisher
    Kenny started his career in forex working in the sales and marketing department at a major forex broker and has worked as a market analyst for 12 years. With a legal editing background, Kenny has combined his writing skills and finance expertise to produce top-quality articles. Kenny covers a wide range of topics, including global stock markets, commodities and currencies, with focus on fundamental and macro-economic analysis. Kenny’s articles have been carried by Oanda,, Seeking Alpha and FXStreet. Kenny holds a Bachelor of Law from Ogoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada.

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