PCE Inflation Data Aligns With Forecasts, Personal Income Jumps

James Hyerczyk
Updated: Feb 29, 2024, 15:54 UTC

Key Points:

  • Inflation aligns with market forecasts, influences Fed policy
  • Personal income jumps 1%, surpassing estimates
  • Consumer spending falls, shifts focus to services
US PCE Index report


The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ recent report presents an intriguing picture of the U.S. economy, with key insights into inflation, personal income, and spending trends, pivotal for Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions.

Inflation and Federal Reserve’s Gauge

In January, inflation aligned with market expectations, a critical factor in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy considerations. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, excluding volatile food and energy costs, climbed 0.4% monthly and 2.8% year-over-year, matching Dow Jones consensus estimates. The headline PCE, which includes food and energy, also rose in line with forecasts, at 0.3% monthly and 2.4% annually.

Personal Income Surge

Contrary to expectations, personal income saw an exceptional increase of 1%, significantly surpassing the anticipated 0.3% rise. This robust growth in personal income is mainly attributed to government social benefits, income receipts on assets, and compensation, indicating a stronger-than-expected economic underpinning.

Despite the income surge, spending did not follow suit, recording a 0.1% decline compared to the forecasted 0.2% increase. A detailed look reveals a $121.0 billion increase in services spending, offset by a $77.0 billion reduction in goods expenditure. Key sectors like housing, utilities, and healthcare drove the services spending, while goods spending saw a downturn in areas such as motor vehicles and energy goods.

Consumer Behavior and Savings

The personal saving rate stood at 3.8%, reflecting a cautious consumer stance despite the income hike. Personal outlays increased by $54.3 billion, suggesting a balanced consumer spending and saving behavior in the face of evolving economic conditions.

Real PCE and Market Implications

The real PCE decrease of 0.1% indicates a shift in consumer preferences towards services over goods, a trend with significant market implications. This shift might influence different sectors unevenly, favoring service-oriented industries.

Short-Term Market Forecast

Given the alignment of inflation with expectations and the unexpected rise in personal income, the market outlook seems cautiously positive. The Federal Reserve’s interest rate deliberations, influenced by these inflation figures, could lean towards a more accommodative stance, potentially buoying market sentiment. However, the unexpected dip in spending, coupled with the preference shift towards services, suggests a mixed impact across different market sectors. Investors should remain vigilant, especially towards consumer services and sectors affected by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions.

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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