The Macomb Daily

U.S. inflation slows to 6.4%, but price pressures re-emerge

- By Christophe­r Rugaber

The pace of consumer price increases eased again in January compared with a year earlier, the latest sign that the high inflation that has gripped Americans for nearly two years is slowly easing.

At the same time, Tuesday’s consumer price report from the government showed that inflationa­ry pressures in the U.S. economy remain stubborn and are likely to keep prices elevated well into this year. Rising costs will also keep pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate further and to keep it there through year’s end.

Consumer prices climbed 6.4% in January from a year earlier, down from 6.5% in December. It was the seventh straight year-over-year slowdown and well below a recent peak of 9.1% in June. Yet it remains far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual inflation target.

And on a monthly basis, consumer prices increased 0.5% from December to January, much higher than the 0.1% rise from November to December. More expensive gas, food and clothing drove up last month’s figure.

The data show that while inflation is fading, it is likely to do so slowly and unevenly. The government also incorporat­ed annual revisions of its methods into January’s inflation report, which caused monthly increases in the final three months of last year to be higher than originally reported. Combined with January’s price figures, the slowdown in inflation since the fall is now more gradual than it seemed just a few weeks ago.

Excluding volatile food and energy costs, so-called “core” prices increased 0.4% last month, up from 0.3% in December. Core prices rose 5.6% from a year ago, down just a tick from December’s 5.7%.

In the past three months, core prices have risen at a 4.6% annual rate, which is below the year-over-year number and suggests that more declines are coming. But that figure is up from 4.3% in December.

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