The fact that import costs decreased more than anticipated on Friday and provided consumers with much-needed respite was additional positive news for inflation.
According to the most recent Bureau of Economic Analysis figures, the U.S. is on track to import just over $4 trillion worth of goods and services this year, capping off a rather optimistic week for those concerned about rising prices.
Any reprieve is appreciated by Americans, who already pay enormous prices for food, electricity, and a variety of other necessities in their everyday lives. Since it was only the first decrease in import prices this year, the annual increase is still greater than 8.8%.
It had been reported earlier in the week that price hikes at both the wholesale and retail levels had slowed down for the month. Consumer prices, which include food and fuel, were flat while producer prices fell by 0.5%, both of which were mostly caused by a strong decrease in the energy complex.
Everyone is noticing: Consumer expectations for inflation, according to a New York Federal Reserve survey released on Monday, are for it to remain high but not by as much as in recent months. The University of Michigan consumer mood survey, whose ups and downs frequently correspond with gas prices, was higher than anticipated on Friday, albeit it was still only slightly above record-low levels seen in June.
“This is except report.”
When all the data is combined, there is at least some cause for optimism. But it’s generally a good idea to temper your enthusiasm.
The producer price index has increased 9.8% over the same time period, while the consumer price index is still up 8.5% from a year ago.
While the report is consistent with the idea that inflation pressures may finally have peaked, Krishna Guha, head of global policy and central bank strategy for Evercore ISI, noted in a client note on CPI that “this is just one report.”
Thomas Barkin, the president of the Richmond Federal Reserve, made comparable remarks on Friday. The central bank representative told CNBC that while the inflation data was “extremely encouraging,” he saw no reason to stop raising interest rates, which some analysts worry may push the United States into a recession.
Before the Fed feels it has enough convincing evidence that inflation is reducing to cease hiking rates, Guha continued, “there is a very long way to go.”
Next week, the Fed and investors will be able to see how much of an effect inflation has had on consumer spending.
Perspective of the buyer
According to FactSet, the Commerce Department’s Wednesday advance report is forecast to reveal a small 0.2% headline growth in retail sales for July following a 1% increase in June. Inflation has not been accounted for in the report.
Thoughts on the possible outcomes of the statistics varied widely.
Bank of America predicts a 0.2% loss, while Citigroup reports a likely 1.1% decline for the month. However, control group expenditure, which excludes a number of volatile categories, may have increased by 0.9%.
Officials from the Fed will be keeping a close eye out for any broad trends in how inflation is affecting Main Street.
Inflation does seem to have reached a preliminary peak, according to Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM.
He said that the Fed is likely to be unmoved by this week’s statistics in its quest to bring inflation to its objective of 2%.
Any idea that the Fed is about to pivot should be disregarded, he added, because he believes that the inflation in July has no bearing on the direction of policy. “Any potential obvious and persuasive proof that inflation is well on its way back to the 2% target that currently defines price stability is some months away at this point,” the author writes.