The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.5 percent in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The CPI was up 2.2% in the 12 months through February, compared with 2.1% in January, while the core index increased 1.8% from a year earlier for a third month.
Industrial output expanded 7.5 per cent in January 2018 against 3.5 per cent a year ago on the back of robust manufacturing growth coupled with higher off-take of consumer and capital goods - raising industry clamour for a rate cut by the RBI next month to maintain the growth momentum.
Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices rose 0.2%, compared to 0.3% in January.
Analysts expect food inflation to rise because of the seasonal upturn in vegetable prices in the summer, an increase in minimum support price of summer crops that will reflect with a lag, and an upswing in global wheat prices.
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"While [the numbers] will look firmer in March as last year's drop in cell phone charges fall out of the calculation, inflation still won't be strong enough to warrant a more aggressive hiking path from the Fed than the three quarter point moves we expect this year", says Andrew Grantham of CIBC Economics.
The country's industrial production, however, rose by 7.5% in January, backed by growth in manufacturing, consumer and capital goods sectors.
Apparel prices continued to march higher, rising 1.5 percent in February after surging 1.7 percent in January. However, the SBI in its report stated that one shortcoming of inflation targeting is that it may neglect important information about the build-up of financial imbalances, given that these developments do not materialise rapidly into consumer price pressures.
Capital goods also registered a healthy growth at 14.6 per cent in January, 2018 against a decline of 0.6 per cent a year ago.
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On an year-over-year level, prices rose 2.2 percent.
What matters here is that this more or less continues some of the more muted inflationary pressures that had been seen in hourly wages in February versus January, seen in last Friday's unemployment and payrolls report.
X The soft inflation reading could slightly lower odds of a fourth Fed interest-rate hike in 2018.
Auto prices restrained inflation, as the cost of new vehicles fell 0.5% in February, the most since 2009, while used cars and trucks were down 0.3%, breaking a four-month streak of gains.
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The mining sector, however, registered negligible growth of 0.1 per cent, as compared to 8.6 per cent rise in January a year ago. Even at the use based classification the growth is broad based as with the exception of intermediate goods all other segments have shown growth either in high single digit or greater than high single digit.