Fund managers to mull US inflation data

US dollarFund managers are waiting to see if the latest consumer prices index, released tomorrow, shows it has become even more expensive to be an American. The last US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) in June increased 0.3% due mainly to a 3.3% rise in the price of gasoline. The index is keenly watched, along with employment figures, as the US pulls back from its quantitative easing programme and the Federal Reserve appears to edge more closely towards an interest-rate rise, guided by inflation and employment. Inflation has been creeping up in the US in recent months, but though the June increase marked a total increase to inflation of 2.1% over the previous 12 months, inflation was still in line with trends. Electricity price increases had slowed, and food saw its smallest rise since January. Overall, the energy index increased 1.6% in June, its third increase in a row and the largest since December. Individual increases were mixed. The electricity index rose 0.2%, while natural gas fell 2.6% and fuel oil saw its fourth monthly decline at 1.7%. Increases in the food index and the food-at-home index slowed considerably, with a downturn in dairy and related products and fruits and vegetables, and a continued decline in cereals and bakery products. In contrast, the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs made a small increase in June. The indexes for shelter, apparel, medical care, and tobacco all increased in June, and the index for household furnishings and operations rose for the first time in a year. Unemployment, meanwhile, has been falling. At the beginning of August the BLS said the unemployment rate was 6.2%, a decline of 1.1% over the past 12 months. Average hourly earnings increased by 1% for employees on private non-farm payrolls and 2% for private sector production and nonsupervisory employees. Fed chair Janet Yellen has warned that interest rates could raise sooner and more rapidly than expected if the labour market continued to improve faster than policymakers predicted. ©2014 funds europe

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