Consumer Prices in December Set Stronger Inflation Pressure for 2018

Consumer Prices in December Set Stronger Inflation Pressure for 2018

Underlying U.S. consumer prices recorded their largest increase in 11 months in December on gains in the cost of rental accommodations and healthcare, bolstering expectations that inflation will accelerate this year. The reports likely keep the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates at least three times this year.

"The hardening of the CPI inflation in December 2017 was led by the sharp jump in inflation for housing, as well as a base-effect led uptick in food inflation, with a limited impact of the cut in GST rates".

The Consumer Price Index, which measures the cost of goods and services to individuals, rose just 0.1 percent in December, held down by falling energy prices, the Commerce Department said in its monthly report.

Headline retail rose 0.4% month on month in December, following an upwardly-revised 0.9% rise in November.

The biggest gains came in the category known as "nonstore retailers" which rose 1.2 percent in the month and were up almost 13 percent compared to the same month of previous year.

The Dollar is down over half a percent against most pairs after the release of inflation data for December.

Avery Shenfeld, senior economist at CIBC World Markets, said that the USA dollar could see some momentum Friday following CPI data. Prices excluding food and energy were up 1.8% relative to last month's increase of 1.7%.

Capital goods output, a proxy for investment, grew by 9.4 per cent in November as against 5.3 per cent a year ago.

The yield for the 10-year benchmark note climbed to 2.583%, from 2.531%, while the 30-year bond yield was higher at 2.894%, versus 2.863%. Over the past 12 months, food prices are up 1.6%. The cost of both hospital and doctor visits increased 0.3 percent.

The cost of motor vehicle insurance increased 0.6%. Apparel prices, however, fell 0.5 percent. Mining grew at 1.1 per cent in November while electricity grew at 3.9 per cent.

The annual CPI in rural areas in December ruled higher at 5.27 per cent, while in urban India it rose by 5.09 per cent.

Last month, gasoline prices fell 2.7 percent after rebounding 7.3 percent in November.

"The data is consistent with the view of the Fed on inflation, which is that weakness in growth before was due to transitory factors", said Lewis Alexander, chief economist at Nomura Securities International Inc.in NY, who had projected a 0.3 percent monthly gain in core prices.

The energy index rose 6.9 percent in 2017 after a 5.4-percent increase in 2016.

The output of primary goods grew by 3.2 per cent, while that of intermediate goods rose by 5.5 per cent.

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