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Consumer Prices Saw Slower Rise in March

Consumer prices rose 0.1% in March, a slowdown from the 0.4% increase in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Energy and food: Energy costs fell for the second month in a row, dipping 3.5% in March. Gasoline prices decreased 4.6%.

  • Food prices were flat for the month, ending nearly three years of increases.
  • In the past year, food costs have risen 8.5%, while energy prices have fallen 6.4% year-over-year.

Core consumer prices: Excluding energy and food costs, core consumer pricing increased 0.4% in March, down from 0.5% in February and in line with expectations.

  • Specific increases included transportation services (up 1.4%), shelter (up 0.6%) medical care commodities (up 0.6%), household furnishings and supplies (up 0.4%), new vehicles (up 0.4%) and apparel (up 0.3%).

The index: The consumer price index has risen 5.0% in the past 12 months, down from February’s 6.0% and the slowest rate in almost two years.

The NAM says: “Overall, inflationary pressures for consumers continue to be elevated—particularly for core prices—despite encouraging signs of moderation in the data,” NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray said.

  • “This will continue to put some pressure on the Federal Reserve. Yet, monetary policymakers must also weigh financial risks to the economy with the failure of some regional banks.”
  • “As a result, the Federal Open Market Committee might hike the federal funds rate by 25 basis points at its May 2–3 meeting—perhaps for one last time before hitting the pause button.”
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