US consumer price growth cools in August, smallest gain in seven months

US consumer price growth cools in August, smallest gain in seven months



Prices paid by U.S. consumers rose in August by less than forecast, posting the smallest gain in seven months and suggesting that some of the upward pressure on is beginning to wane.


The increased 0.3% from July, according to Labor Department data released Tuesday. Compared with a year ago, the CPI rose 5.3%. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, so-called core climbed 0.1% from the prior month, the smallest gain since February.





Economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.4% increase in the overall CPI from the prior month and a 5.3% gain from a year earlier, based on the median estimates.


Treasuries pared declines following the data, while the dollar fell and S&P 500 futures rose.


Faced with mounting cost pressures as a result of materials shortages, transportation bottlenecks and hiring difficulties, businesses have been boosting prices for consumer goods and services. While price spikes associated with the economy’s reopening are beginning to abate, tenuous supply chains could linger well into 2022 and keep elevated.


A Federal Reserve Bank of New York survey showed Monday that consumers expect inflation at 4% over the next three years, the highest in data back to mid-2013.


The CPI data precede next week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, where Fed officials will debate how and when to begin tapering asset purchases. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last month that the central bank could begin reducing its monthly bond purchases this year, but didn’t give a specific time line.


The figures could also help blunt criticism from Republicans that President Joe Biden’s economic stimulus is spurring damaging inflation as he seeks to sell a $3.5 trillion long-term tax-and-spending package that’s also running into opposition from moderate Democrats.


Parts shortages that have driven up input costs are restraining production. In the last week, Toyota Motor Corp. and 3M Co. both downgraded their outlooks for car output due to semiconductor shortages, while Nestle said it is introducing even bigger price hikes as commodity and transportation costs surge.


Meantime, Hurricane Ida halted operations at refineries and petrochemical plants in the south, adding to pandemic-related supply chain bottlenecks and likely price pressures as well.

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