Key inflation gauge for the Fed rose 0.3% in March as expected

Despite a year’s worth of interest rate increases, inflation rose again in March, according to economic data released Friday that the Federal Reserve watches closely.

The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy increased 0.3% for the month, in line with the Dow Jones estimate. On an annual basis, so-called core PCE increased 4.6%, slightly higher than the expectation for 4.5% and down 0.1 percentage point from a month ago.

Including the volatile food and energy components, headline PCE also rose 0.1% for the month, equating to a 4.2% annual increase, down from 5.1% in February. That measure peaked out around 7% in June 2022, the highest level since December 1981.

In another key inflation measure, the employment cost index increased 1.2% for the first quarter, higher than the 1% estimate.

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