WHAT IT MEANS:
- INDICATOR: October Consumer Prices, Real Earnings, Industrial Production and November Home Builders’ Index
- KEY DATA: CPI: +0.2%; Excluding Food and Energy: +0.2%/ Real Earnings: +0.2%/ IP: -0.2%; Manufacturing: +0.4%/ NAHB: -3 points
- IN A NUTSHELL: “With consumer prices stabilizing and manufacturing rebounding, the barriers to a Fed tightening continue to come down.”
Inflation is coming back, at least a little. The Consumer Price Index rose moderately in October and that was the case in almost any way you sliced and diced the data. For the first time in a while, there were significantly more categories posting gains than declines.
Even gasoline prices were up, which was a surprise since the Energy Information Agency had costs declining. Food costs edged upward, but the real gains were found in shelter and medical care. People buying vehicles got a break on prices. Look for more vacation car trips as airfares soared. The strong dollar probably helped drive down apparel costs, but it doesn’t look as if the falling import prices are being passed on greatly to consumers.
Importantly, services prices continue to rise at a moderate pace and as I have mentioned so many times before, this is over 60% of costs. Over-the-year, services prices are up 2.4% and excluding energy services, the rise in now at 2.8%. So much for no inflation.
Inflation-adjusted wages rose moderately in October. Importantly, average hourly wage gains are accelerating, a sign that the tight labor market is starting to force firms to raise wages.
Manufacturing has been weak lately but that seems to be changing. Cut backs in energy production and a warm October that limited utility output may have caused overall industrial to decline, but there was a solid rise in manufacturing production, especially durable goods. Output of consumer goods, business equipment and industrial supplies all improved.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index declined, though it remains at a level consistent with moderate activity. Builders seem worried that potentially higher mortgage rates will slow sales, though the opposite could happen.
MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS:
Tomorrow, the “minutes” from the October FOMC meeting are released. Low inflation and what was perceived to be at the time slowing job gains were likely key factors in the decision to do nothing. Well, the recent data are now on the side of a Fed rate hike in December.
Inflation is not decelerating and there could be a real shocker come early next year as the huge declines in energy prices disappear: It is possible that the year increase could be above 1.5% in January, not the 0.2% rise in October.
With the core at 1.9%, the Fed’s inflation target is really not that far away. In addition, we have seen that job gains are back on track, wage gains are accelerating and manufacturing is starting to recover.
In other words, everything seems to be coming together for those at the Fed who want to start normalizing rates.
Investors really need to come to grips with the likelihood that interest rates are going up and the first rise could come in four weeks.
© 2023 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.