Fed: Economy has ‘Picked Up’, US Inflation ‘Subdued’

The Federal Reserve ended its two-day meeting Wednesday, and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) held interest rates steady near zero, as expected. The FOMC followed the meeting with a statement saying that "economic activity has picked up." It also indicated US inflation was under control, stating:

With substantial resource slack likely to continue to dampen cost pressures and with longer-term inflation expectations stable, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued for some time.

To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets, the Fed noted that it expects to finish purchases of "$1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt" in a slowing pace until the first quarter of 2010.

August inflation data showed that consumer prices had decreased 1.5% during the prior 12 months and that core annual inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose just 1.4%. That was the smallest year-over-year gain since February 2004, and well within the Federal Reserve’s traditional comfort zone of between 1%-2%. Continue reading Fed: Economy has ‘Picked Up’, US Inflation ‘Subdued’

Annual US inflation Down 1.5%, August Consumer Prices Higher on Energy Costs

U.S. consumer prices rose slightly in August but the key measure of inflation remained lower over the past 12 months, the government reported Wednesday morning.

Led by a 9.1% increase in gasoline prices, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4% in August and followed no change in July, according to the Labor Department. The core CPI, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, increased 0.1% in August, the same level as July.

"For inflation to be a concern, we’d have to see core rates rising consistently above 0.2% each month and wages start to rise," PNC analyst Robert Dye was quoted on CNNMoney. "The labor markets are far from healed enough for that to happen."

The latest data also helps to ease concerns of rising inflation due to recent government spending and the Federal Reserve monetary policy of injecting cash into the US economy in a continuing effort to stimulate a recovery. Continue reading Annual US inflation Down 1.5%, August Consumer Prices Higher on Energy Costs

Inflation Calculator and Rates Information Update

US consumer prices edged slightly higher in August, due largely to higher energy costs, but they are lower over the past 12 months, new government data reveals.

The Consumer Price Index, which is the government’s most closely watched barometer for measuring inflation at the consumer level, rose 0.4% in August. The increase was "driven by a 9.1 percent rise in the gasoline index," according to the monthly released CPI report from the Labor Department.

"Oil is becoming the bane of our existence again, but other cost pressures remain reasonably well restrained," Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors was noted on Forbes.com.

Compared to the same period a year ago, consumer prices fell 1.5% — due largely again to gasoline prices — they were higher in August compared to the previous month but sharply lower than the levels seen last summer.

The US Inflation Calculator is updated with the newest government information, as are the following inflation rate and data pages:

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For an in depth look at August consumer prices, read Annual US inflation Down 1.5%.

US wholesale inflation higher as August producer prices rise 1.7%

US wholesale inflation ticked higher in August as producer prices rose 1.7% during the month, according to newly released data from the Labor Department. The monthly increase contrasts against a 0.9% decline in July, and is sharply above — more than double — what many analysts were expecting.

"We are concerned about the outlook for inflation later in 2010 and this report suggests that inflation pressures may be beginning to stir in manufacturing," John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros of RDQ Economics was quoted on MarketWatch.com.

The Labor Department’s Producer Price Index data, which measures prices at the factory door and inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, showed the bulk of the increase came from higher energy costs. Continue reading US wholesale inflation higher as August producer prices rise 1.7%