U.S. consumer inflation rose less than expected last month, fueling optimism that the Federal Reserve may slow the pace of interest rate hikes that have pushed borrowing costs close to a 15-year high.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.1% in November, below expectations of 0.3% and down from a 0.4% advance in each of the previous two months. Year-over-year, prices rose 7.1%, down from a 7.7% annual gain in October and compared with projections for a 7.3% advance. It marks the smallest annual price gain since December of 2021, and comes after prices rose 9.1% in June, the highest annual rate in more than 40 years.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.2% from the previous month, or 6% from a year earlier. Annual price growth decelerated from 6.3% in October, and also came in below projections of 6.1%. That marked the slowest annual price gain since July, when core prices rose 5.9%.
- Consumer prices as tracked by the CPI rose 0.1% in November, or 7.1% from a year earlier, which marked the slowest annual price gain since December of 2021
- Core inflation, which excludes more volatile food and energy costs, rose 6% from a year earlier, decelerating from a 6.3% gain in October
- Shelter costs were the biggest contributor to inflation last month, while food costs continued to rise; energy prices fell, exerting downward pressure on inflation last month
- Moderating consumer inflation could prompt the Federal Reserve to ease the pace of interest rate hikes over the upcoming months
Contribution to Inflation by Category
Shelter costs were the biggest contributor to inflation last month, rising 0.6% from October, or 7.1% year-over-year. Food prices continued to rise, albeit at a somewhat slower pace, gaining 0.5% last month. Year-over-year, the food index was 10.6% higher, decelerating from 10.9% in October and compared to a recent peak of 11.4% in August.
Declines in energy prices, particularly gasoline, drove inflation lower. Energy costs fell 1.6% in November, after gaining 1.8% in October. Year-over-year, they were up 13.1%, accounting for large price increases during the first half of 2022. Energy prices peaked in June, but have since fallen as the price of crude oil and other energy commodities has retreated.
Implications for Monetary Policy
Easing inflation could prompt the Fed, whose Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets this week, to ease interest rate hikes. The U.S. central bank is forecast to raise its benchmark federal funds rate tomorrow by 50 basis points (bps), to a range of 4.25% to 4.5%—the highest level since 2007. The Fed targets an inflation rate of 2% as part of its dual mandate to ensure price stability and full employment.