CPI report: US inflation eases in November but price pressures remain

Latest inflation report likely to dash hopes that Fed will cut US rates early next year

Aided by lower petrol costs, US consumer inflation slowed for a second straight month in November. AFP
Powered by automated translation

US consumer prices eased slightly in November, although underlying price pressures are likely to cool any hopes that the Federal Reserve will cut US interest rates early next year.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.1 per cent last month, the Labour Department reported on Tuesday. On an annual basis, inflation rose 3.1 per cent, down from 3.2 per cent in October.

Falling petrol costs, which declined by 6.0 per cent, contributed to last month's slowdown, the Labour Department said. The index for food also slightly cooled, rising 0.2 per cent last month after a 0.3 per cent gain in October.

But price pressures remain, as evidenced by core inflation. Excluding food and energy, inflation rose 0.3 per cent last month after rising 0.2 per cent in October.

Core CPI rose 4.0 per cent annually, unchanged from October.

The shelter index – which rose 0.4 per cent last month – offset the decline in petrol that the US experienced.

The indexes for rent and motor vehicle insurance also increased, while goods such as apparel and household furnishings decreased.

Tuesday's report comes as the Fed begins its final policy meeting of the year. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to announce on Wednesday that the central bank will leave US interest rates unchanged.

He is also expected to take a more cautious tone when pressed on cutting interest rates, as he did earlier this month.

Instead, Mr Powell is likely to say that the central bank wants to see continued evidence that inflation is moderating and pressures are easing before issuing rate cuts.

A majority of traders expect the Fed will begin cutting interest rates in May 2024, data from the CME Group showed on Tuesday.

Updated: December 13, 2023, 7:04 AM