Fed’s Inflation Gauge Outlook This Week | ORBITAL AFFAIRS

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The Federal Reserve’s Preferred Inflation Gauge Expected to Show Increase in February

Key Takeaways:

  • February results for the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Index, will be released Friday.
  • The Federal Reserve increasingly has said it will rely on data when determining the timing of interest rate cuts this year.
  • Economists expect inflation ticked up in February on a month-over-month and year-over-year basis.

Economists are anticipating that the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) index, will once again show an increase in February. This expected rise could pose a challenge for central bank officials as they navigate the path forward for interest rates.

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Expectations for February:

The upcoming PCE report, set to be released on Friday, is projected to reveal a 0.4% increase for February. This forecast is based on a survey of economists conducted by Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. If this prediction holds true, it would mark the second consecutive month of consumer price growth, complicating the Federal Reserve’s efforts to dismiss it as a temporary fluctuation in their inflation-fighting strategy.

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Nancy Vanden Houten from Oxford Economics highlighted that policymakers at the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) are closely monitoring recent inflation data without succumbing to panic. The Fed’s stance indicates a desire for more inflation data before considering any rate cuts.

In addition to the month-over-month increase, economists are also forecasting a 2.5% rise in inflation over the year ending in February. This figure would surpass January’s annual rate of 2.4%, reflecting a persistent upward trend in consumer prices.

Fed’s Approach to Inflation:

Since the onset of rising inflation during the economic recovery from the pandemic-induced downturn, the Federal Reserve has been actively working to curb inflationary pressures. Over the past year and a half, the Fed implemented a series of rate hikes totaling 5 percentage points. While indications point towards an impending rate cut, Fed officials emphasize the importance of data-driven decision-making in determining the timeline for such actions.

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A sustained period of consecutive months with escalating inflation may not necessarily signify a resurgence of inflationary pressures. However, it could delay potential rate cuts as policymakers assess the evolving economic landscape.

Fed Governor Lisa Cook underscored the risks associated with premature or excessive monetary policy easing, cautioning against allowing above-target inflation to take root and impede progress. She emphasized the necessity of a cautious approach to policy adjustments to ensure a sustainable return to the Fed’s 2% inflation target while supporting a robust labor market.


The forthcoming release of the PCE index for February is poised to provide valuable insights into the trajectory of inflation and its implications for monetary policy decisions. As economists anticipate another uptick in consumer prices, the Federal Reserve faces the challenge of balancing inflation containment with economic stability. By closely monitoring inflation data and adopting a measured approach to policy adjustments, the Fed aims to navigate the evolving economic landscape effectively.

For more financial news and insights, visit Investopedia.

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