Consumer Prices Accelerated in September


While investors cheered an increase in the USA producer price index (PPI) for last month, inflation concerns were still in focus ahead of consumer price index (CPI) data on Friday after Federal Reserve minutes showed a more guarded view.

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, consumer prices gained 0.1 per cent in September as the increase in rental accommodation slowed and the cost of new motor vehicles and medical care declined.

Some Fed officials have been waiting for signs of rising inflation-coupled with low unemployment and steady job growth-before raising interest rates again.

"The firmness in retail sales should override the enduring mystery of low inflation to spur a December Fed rate hike", said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri in Toronto.

Petrol prices surged 13.1 per cent last month, accounting for 75 per cent of the rise in the CPI.

CPI climbed to 2.2% in September, from 1.9% in August - missing forecasts of 2.3% but above the 2% level that marks the Federal Reserve's target rate in personal consumption expenditures, its favoured measure of inflation, which stands at just 1.3%.

"Hurricane effects are clearly visible - higher gasoline prices boosted gasoline station sales and strength can also be seen in other components as it is likely that there was some uplift as households start to replace lost items", said James Knightley, chief worldwide economist at ING. Adverse weather is seen as impeding lower-income people from getting to work more than it did higher-income employees.

The rise was largely due to the largest one-month increase in gasoline prices since 2009.

A surge in energy prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey pushed USA inflation rate in September to an eight-month high, while the core inflation less food and energy remained muted, according to a report released by Labor Department on Friday. Core prices have risen at that same annual rate since May.

Bitcoin smashed through the $5,000 barrier for the first time and was last up 10 percent on the day. The inflation rate since the beginning of the year (September 2017 compared to December 2016) has been 1.3% and the annual inflation in September 2017 compared to September 2016 was 2.1%.

Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,300.40 an ounce at 1302 GMT after $1,302.40, the highest since September 26. But that hasn't fully translated directly into higher US consumer prices, in part because technology is allowing Americans to find lower-cost products and wage pressures remain largely in check. Shelter prices advanced 0.3% over the month.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said retail sales jumped 1.6 per cent in September.

Sarah Chaney contributed to this article.