The consumer price index (CPI) is expected hit another pandemic peak, of 8.8% in June, according to the median forecast of economists Bloomberg surveyed.
If the closely followed gauge does jump by 1.1% from a year ago—the third month in the past four that it would have climbed by 1 percentage point or more—the Federal Reserve will likely increase the fed funds rate by 75 basis points later this month.
High gas and food prices are likely to be the drivers of an increase in inflation. The average price of gasoline per gallon topped $5 in the United States in mid June and will add at least 0.5 percentage points to the CPI.
Economists expect the July CPI number to cool somewhat due to easing prices in used cars and bloated retail inventories forcing big box stores like Target and Walmart to offer discounts.
However, housing—both home ownership and renting—is still red hot, and any decrease in inflation in this sector will take some time to flow through to consumers.
“If I’m right about June being the start of a string of lower core CPI prints, which is what the Fed wants to see, then I think comments from officials will quickly switch to a 50 basis-point hike for September, and there were more calls for slowing to 25 basis points late in the year,” Omair Sharif, founder of Inflation Insights LLC, tells Bloomberg.
“Inflation, of course, has migrated away from the goods sector and is now firmly entrenched in housing—thanks to a very tight housing market—as well as in non-shelter services,” Citigroup economists said in a note.
“We continue to expect a slowing in activity and some slowing in prices, but it could take time both to cool down the overheating housing market, and that may only flow through to rents with a lag,” wrote Citigroup economists Andrew Hollenhorst, Veronica Clark and Isfar Munir.
However, if inflation remains elevated, Deutsche Bank AG economists say the Fed could take an “even more painful adjustment to the monetary policy stance.”
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