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PCE inflation index jumps to 5.382% YOY or 0.6% in January

Commentaries & Views

The preferred inflation index used by the Federal Reserve; the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index jumped to its highest value since last summer. The core PCE increased by 0.6% in January when compared to the prior month, taking the year-over-year PCE to 5.382%. Today's PCE report was the result of surging consumer spending after a dramatic decline at the end of last year.

According to the BEA, "Personal income increased $131.1 billion (0.6 percent) in January, according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $387.4 billion (2.0 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $312.5 billion (1.8 percent). The PCE price index increased 0.6 percent in January. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index also increased 0.6 percent (table 9). Real DPI increased 1.4 percent and Real PCE increased 1.1 percent; goods increased 2.2 percent and services increased 0.6 percent."

The net result was strong declines in US equities and precious metals and gains in both US treasury yields and the dollar. This raises expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise rates by ¼% for the next three consecutive FOMC meetings. This also raises the expectations by market participants that the terminal fed funds rate will move to a higher target than 5.1%.

Most importantly, this report confirms that components of inflation remain sticky or persistent. This after an extremely hawkish monetary policy by the Federal Reserve has raised rates at the last eight consecutive FOMC meetings. The Fed raised its benchmark rate from near zero in March 2022 to 4.5% - 4.75% last month. It has also raised the probability of ½ a percent rate hike at the next FOMC meeting in March. According to the CME's Fedwatch tool, there is a 27% probability of that outcome.

Today's PCE report creates more bearish downside pressure for gold and silver. As of yesterday, gold futures were already priced below the opening price on January 3, the first trading day of the year.

Today's April gold futures gave up $8.80 or 0.48% and is currently fixed at $1818. March silver lost 2.66% or $0.57 and is currently fixed at $20.74 per ounce. Today's PCE report will only strengthen the resolve of the Federal Reserve to "do whatever it takes", to reduce inflation to their target level of 2%. However, their current target might be unachievable at least according to El-Erian, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist who doubts whether the Federal Reserve can achieve that goal. In fact, 3% to 3 ½% might be the new 2%.

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Wishing you as always good trading,

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