US Inflation Steadies, Fed's Rate Cut Plans on Hold
US Inflation Steadies, Fed’s Rate Cut Plans on Hold

Prices inched higher in February, dashing hopes for an immediate interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve. The annual inflation rate ticked up to 3.2%, driven by rising gasoline and housing costs. This surpassed January’s number and put a pause on expectations of the Fed lowering borrowing costs in March.

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While inflation peaked in 2022, prompting the Fed to aggressively raise interest rates, recent progress appears to have stalled. This means the Fed will likely remain cautious, potentially delaying their first rate cut until June or later.

Grocery prices, a major public concern, remained flat. This offered some relief, as meat and fresh produce costs balanced out increases in cereal, bread, and eggs.

However, housing costs continued their upward trend, rising 0.4% in February and 5.7% year-over-year. This significant factor, comprising roughly a third of the overall inflation measure, keeps the Fed wary.

Excluding housing, the inflation picture brightens. Core inflation, which removes volatile food and energy prices, sits at a much lower 1.8% compared to last year. Analysts predict housing costs to cool down in the coming months, potentially paving the way for a more decisive Fed action.

Overall, the latest report indicates a temporary pause in the inflation decline. While not a clear sign of a new upward trend, it suggests the Fed won’t rush into cutting rates just yet. They’ll likely wait for further confirmation of sustained price stability before altering their current stance.

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