US Consumer Prices Rose 0.2% in February, Up 2.2% On Year

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According to official data released on Monday, consumer price index (CPI) based inflation eased to a four-month low of 4.44 per cent in February from 5.07 per cent in January.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, also edged up by 0.2 percent in February following a 0.3 percent increase in January. Economists expected a 2.3% increase in overall inflation and core prices to rise 1.9%.

USA consumer prices continued to firm in February, indicating inflation is creeping up toward the Federal Reserve's target without the kind of breakout that would warrant a faster pace of interest-rate hikes.

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In January, retail inflation had declined to 5.07% while the inflation based on wholesale prices had eased to a six-month low of 2.84%.

The jobless rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent and economists expect it to drop to 3.5 percent by year-end. But faster wage growth should begin to show up this spring, reflecting recently announced wage hikes from Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), CVS Health (CVS) and Starbucks (SBUX) that didn't happen soon enough for the latest jobs report. We have also noted price increases across some major food items during our food survey in the month.

The country's industrial production, however, rose by 7.5% in January, backed by growth in manufacturing, consumer and capital goods sectors.

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India's industrial production rose by 7.5% in January 2018 compared to that in January 2017, data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation showed. Food prices were unchanged, with the cost of food consumed at home dropping 0.2 percent. That was the opposite of what happened last month, when a jump in prices prompted investors to sell stocks. It had increased its inflation projection to 4.3-4.7% in H2FY18 as compared to its earlier projections of 4.2-4.6%. IIP grew at 4.1 per cent in April-January this fiscal as compared to 5 per cent in same period in previous financial year.

The deceleration in CPI inflation will nudge the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to hold off on hiking key repo rates as it sounded hawkish at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting last month.

Note that in 2013, 2016 and 2017 a core rate of 0.3% was reported for January - without inflation increasing on a sustainable basis. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 36.42 points, or 0.48 percent, to 7,624.74.

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"The broader story remains that of US monetary policy normalization in the backdrop of an improving economy and a further decline in currency market volatility would only fuel more risk taking appetite", said Commerzbank's FX strategist Thu Lan Nguyen.

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