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Biden to tout inflation-control efforts, release of oil reserves

Kitco News

WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to highlight his administration's efforts to tackle rising inflation as the White House increasingly links historic price hikes to companies pocketing handsome profits.

Biden's administration along with the Federal Reserve had largely described sharp spikes in inflation earlier this year as transitory, but pressure for action has grown as the price surges have continued into the fall.

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month that U.S. consumer prices in October posted their biggest annual gain in 31 years, driven by large jumps in the cost of gasoline and other goods.

Biden is slated to "deliver remarks on the economy and lowering prices" at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT).

The White House on Tuesday announced plans to release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves in coordination with China, India, South Korea, Japan and Britain to cool prices after producers in the OPEC+ group repeatedly ignored calls for more crude.

Biden may also turn a spotlight on companies the White House says are failing to pass savings along to consumers.

"We will continue to press oil companies who have made record profits and are overseeing what we consider to be price gouging out there," Jen Psaki, the White House's press secretary, told reporters abroad Air Force One on Monday. "When there's a supply of oil or the price of oil is coming down and the price of gas is not coming down, it does not take an economic expert to know that's a problem."

Psaki also highlighted the administration's call for the Federal Maritime Commission to ensure free and fair competition and prevent "outsized profits" for ocean carriers, saying new data showed companies in that sector made nine times more in profits in the third quarter compared to last year.

Biden last week said there was mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies that is keeping fuel prices elevated, asking the Federal Trade Commission to dig deeper into possible "illegal conduct" in the market.

The Democratic president may also highlight on Tuesday his administration's efforts to project stability to markets, including a move announced on Monday to renominate Fed Chair Jerome Powell, a Republican, to another term as head of the U.S. central bank despite pushback from some progressive Democrats.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Andrea Shalal Editing by Paul Simao
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