The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its consumer price index report on Wednesday, April 10 at 8:30 a.m.
Here are five things to watch in the March report:
Gasoline prices will boost overall inflation
A bump in gasoline prices is expected to be the main driver of
This will bounce the rate up for the first time in three months after gasoline prices had tamped down inflation from November to January. This rebound in inflation is expected to continue through April, economists said.
Will core inflation remain stable?
Core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, is expected to hold steady at 2.1 percent year-over-year increase, economists said.
The Federal Reserve watches the core number to help determine monetary policy. With inflation subdued in the last few months despite low unemployment and rising wages, the Fed chose to hold off on raising borrowing costs throughout the beginning of 2019 and will likely continue to do so through the rest of the year.
Higher gas prices could eventually bleed into the core number through transportation and airfare costs.
Pressure from the president
While it’s anticipated that inflation will remain near the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent, President Trump is calling for cuts to interest rates to boost economic growth. This push from the president came after the the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employers added 196,000 jobs in March and unemployment remains low.
Despite President Trump touting a strong economy, he continues to criticize the Fed for not being more aggressive on borrowing costs. He also plans to fill empty seats on the Federal Reserve Board with allies Stephen Moore and Herman Cain, although some economists don’t expect that
The Federal Reserve is quasi-independent and likely won’t buckle to political pressure unless there’s solid economic reasoning alongside it.
Muted inflation despite other pressures
Inflation may start to reflect some impacts of a tight labor market.
Core prices may see upward pressure in services with a tight labor market and wages continue to outpace inflation. Meanwhile, goods prices, are more pushed by international factors like the dollar and Chinese producer prices.
“I don’t think the Fed is going to lose any sleep about a sudden acceleration any time soon,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.
The market’s focus since December had been the cooling in inflation, economists said. But now the index is expected to indicate a move back to a higher status.
Thoughts from market players that the recent lull in inflation were signs of something worse to come were premature, economists said.
“Yes we did get some release in the inflation numbers for two or three months,” said Michael Englund, chief economist at Action Economics. “The markets may have extrapolated that to a greater degree than they should have.”