Inflation rose more than expected in January as stubbornly high shelter prices weighed on consumers, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.
The consumer price index, a broad-based measure of the prices shoppers face for goods and services across the economy, increased 0.3% for the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. On a 12-month basis, that came out to 3.1%.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a monthly increase of 0.2% and an annual gain of 2.9%.
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core CPI accelerated 0.4% in January and was up 3.9% from a year ago. The forecast had been for 0.3% and 3.7% respectively.
Shelter prices, which comprise about one-third of the CPI weighting, accounted for much of the increase. The index for that category rose 0.6% on the month, contributing more than two-thirds of the headline increase, the BLS said. On a 12-month basis, shelter increased 6%.
Food prices moved higher as well, up 0.4% on the month. Energy helped offset some of the increase, down 0.9% due largely to a 3.3% slide in gasoline prices.
Stock market futures slid sharply following the release. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off more than 250 points and Treasury yields surged higher.
The release comes as Federal Reserve officials look to set the proper balance for monetary policy in 2024. Though financial markets have been looking for aggressive interest rate cuts, policymakers have been more cautious in their public statements, focusing on the need to let the data be their guide rather than preset expectations.
Fed officials expect inflation to recede back to their 2% annual target in large part because they think shelter prices will decelerate through the year. January’s increase could be problematic for a central bank looking to take its foot off the brake for monetary policy at its tightest in more than two decades.
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