While overall prices are still running hot, consumer inflation slowed to 7.1% in November, providing a better-than-expected result ahead of the Federal Reserve’s 2-day meeting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Tuesday beat the 7.3% economists expected and was significantly down from October’s 7.7% report.
In fact, November’s rise is the smallest 12-month increase since December 2021 and the second month in a row inflation cooled more than expected. For the month, prices rose just 0.1% for overall consumer prices and 0.2% for core consumer prices, which strip out food and energy. Core consumer prices are up 6% on the year.
Energy prices continue its fall, the sector is down 1.6% on the month. Food across the board climbed 0.5% on the month, the slowest monthly increase since last year.
Used cars are actually cheaper now than they were a year ago, down 3.3% on the year. It is the only category to notch an annual decline as monthly prices have fallen for five straight months.
However, housing is still climbing. The shelter index ticked up to a 7.1% increase for the year, up from 6.9% in October.
The BLS data comes out as the Federal Reserve kicks off its 2-day Open Market Committee meeting Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is widely expected to announce a 50-basis point hike in the benchmark interest rate, bringing the federal funds rate to a target range of 4.25% to 4.5%.
After hiking the benchmark rate by 75 basis points for the fourth straight meeting in November, Powell hinted at slowing the pace of rate hikes at the next meeting. Still, pressure for the Fed to initiate a pivot in its rate hike campaign is seemingly fruitless.
“We still have some ways to go,” Powell said following the November meeting. “Incoming data since our last meeting suggest that the ultimate level of interest rates will be higher than previously expected.”