Prices that consumers pay for everyday items surged in March to their highest levels since the early days of the Reagan administration, according to Labor Department data released Tuesday.
The consumer price index, which measures a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, jumped 8.5% from a year ago on an unadjusted basis, above even the already elevated Dow Jones estimate for 8.4%.
Excluding food and energy, so-called core CPI increased 6.5% on a 12-month basis, in line with the expectation. However, there were signs that core inflation appeared to be ebbing, as it rose just 0.3% for the month, less than the 0.5% estimate. That in turn sparked some hope that inflation overall was easing and that March might represent the peak.
Markets reacted positively to the report as stocks rose and government bond yields declined.
“The big news in the March report was that core price pressures finally appear to be moderating,” wrote Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. Hunter said he thinks the March increase will “mark the peak” for inflation as year-over-year comparisons drive the numbers lower and energy prices subside.
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