Fed’s preferred inflation gauge rises 0.1 percent in August

The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge increased by 0.1 percent in August and fell to a 3.9 percent annual increase, continuing a steady fall since April, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The “core” personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index is down from a 4.3 percent increase in July.

Headline PCE, which is broader and includes the more volatile prices of food and energy, went up by 0.4 percent in August to hit a 3.5 percent annual increase. That’s up from 3.4 percent in July and 3.2 percent in June, as housing and energy prices have been rising.

The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady at a range of 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent at the most recent meeting of its interest rate-setting committee. The latest numbers may take further pressure off the Fed to keep raising rates, though the central bank is projecting to make one more quarter-point hike before the year is out.

Personal incomes and expenditures both rose by 0.4 percent in August, the Commerce Department reported. That’s in line with analysts’ expectations.

With the resumption of student loan payments in October after a three-year hiatus, many economists are expecting consumption levels within the economy to take a hit.

Inflation has ticked up recently in other key price measurements. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose in August to a 3.7 percent annual increase after hitting a recent low of 3.1 percent in June.

Core CPI fell to a 4.4 percent annual increase in August.

Energy prices have been rising. A barrel of oil is now $93 per barrel after falling below $70 in June.

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