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U.S. CPI falls at fastest pace in five years

Kitco News

(Kitco News) - U.S. inflation pressures have eased more than expected as the nation’s economy ground to a halt last month due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, the U.S. Labor Department said its U.S. Consumer Price Index fell 0.4% in March, after a 0.1% rise in February. The data was weaker than consensus forecasts as economists were expecting to see a 0.3% decline.

The report noted that the drop in inflation last month was the sharpest since decline since January 2015. For the year inflation is up 1.5%.

The drop in consumer price pressures was largely the result of a major drop in gasoline prices. The report said the gasoline index dropped 10.5% last month. Last month oil prices fell to an 18-year low below $20 a barrel as the coronavirus has severely curbed demand.

Stripping out volatile food and energy prices, core inflation also dropped more than expected, falling 0.1% in last month, following February’s rise of 0.2%. Economists were expecting to see a 0.1% rise. For the year core CPI is up 2.1%.

The data comes as markets are closed Friday for the Easter long weekend in the U.S.

Economists and market analysts have noted growing deflation risks in the marketplace as the global economy has seen massive demand-side destruction due to the coronavirus. In the U.S. 95% of the nation’s population is following stay-at-home orders to try and slow the spread of the virus.

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