December CPI Revision Alters Outlook on Inflation Trends

James Hyerczyk

BLS revises December CPI to 0.2%, November to 0.2%, showing persistent inflation; December's core CPI steady at 0.3%.

CPI Report Revision

Key Points

  • December CPI revised down to 0.2% from 0.3%
  • November CPI adjusted upward, showing a 0.2% increase
  • Core CPI remains consistent with 0.3% rise in December

CPI Revision Details

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has revised consumer inflation figures for the period from January 2019 to December 2023. This routine adjustment of seasonal factors plays a crucial role in assessing inflation trends.

Adjustments in December and November CPI

For December, the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.2%, a revision from the previously reported 0.3%. In contrast, November’s CPI data was revised upwards, showing a 0.2% increase instead of the initially estimated 0.1%. These changes offer a more detailed view of recent inflation movements.

Core CPI Consistency

The core CPI, excluding volatile food and energy sectors, showed an unrevised rise of 0.3% in December. On an annual basis, December’s core CPI increased by 3.9%, significantly higher than the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure.

Federal Reserve’s Response to Inflation Data

These CPI adjustments are vital for Federal Reserve officials as they evaluate their strategies against inflation. The mixed signals from the monthly CPI data, combined with the sustained increase in the core CPI, are key factors in shaping their decisions regarding monetary policy.

Market Expectations and Interest Rate Predictions

Financial markets are currently anticipating potential Federal Reserve rate cuts in the upcoming months. Since March 2022, the Fed has increased its policy rate by 525 basis points, reaching a range of 5.25% to 5.50%. The revised December CPI data might influence the Fed’s approach to rate adjustments.

Short-Term Market Outlook

The CPI revision altered the outlook on inflation trends and shifted expectations for the Federal Reserve in several ways:

  1. Modified Perception of Inflation Severity: The downward revision of the December CPI to 0.2% from the previously reported 0.3% suggests that inflationary pressures at the end of the year were not as intense as initially thought. This could lead to a reassessment of the overall inflationary environment, implying that inflation might be cooling more rapidly.
  2. Indication of Persistent Inflation: The upward revision of November’s CPI from 0.1% to 0.2% counters the December data, indicating that inflationary pressures were more persistent than previously estimated. This persistence highlights that inflationary pressures didn’t ease as much as hoped in the late part of the year.
  3. Implications for Federal Reserve Policy: The mixed signals from these revisions could impact the Federal Reserve’s policy decisions. The lower inflation in December might support the case for a slower pace of interest rate hikes or even a pause, as it suggests easing inflationary pressures. However, the higher November figure indicates that the Fed might need to continue its vigilant approach against inflation.
  4. Market Expectations Adjustment: Financial markets, which react swiftly to inflation data, are likely to adjust their expectations for the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. If markets perceive inflation as cooling, there may be increased speculation about potential interest rate cuts or a less aggressive stance on rate hikes in the near future.
  5. Core CPI Consistency: The core CPI’s consistency, with a steady 0.3% rise in December, suggests underlying inflation remains firm. This could mean the Federal Reserve may not veer too far from its current approach, balancing the need to control inflation with the risks of over-tightening monetary policy.

Overall, the revised CPI data reveals a multifaceted scenario, showing that inflation trends aren’t consistently diminishing and necessitate a carefully considered response from the Federal Reserve. The central bank must consider these mixed signals in its ongoing efforts to stabilize prices without derailing economic growth.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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