Inflation Remained Cool in September, While Consumers Spent Robustly
Inflation remained cooler in September even as consumers continued to spend at a rapid clip, a sign that the economy is chugging along despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to contain price increases by weighing on demand.
Price increases climbed by 3.4 percent in the year through September, based on the Personal Consumption Expenditures index. That was in line with forecasts, and matched the increase in August.
After stripping out volatile food and fuel to get a sense of the underlying trend in prices, a core price measure climbed by 3.7 percent, also in line with economist expectations and down slightly from a revised 3.8 percent a month earlier.
Fed officials aim for 2 percent inflation based on the measure released Friday — so prices are still climbing much more quickly than normal. But at the same time, price increases have moderated notably compared to the summer of 2022, when the overall P.C.E. measure eclipsed 7 percent. And encouragingly, inflation has come down even as the economy has remained very strong.
Friday’s report provided additional evidence of that resilience. Consumer spending continued to grow at a brisk pace last month, picking up by 0.7 percent from the previous month, and 0.4 percent after adjusting for inflation.
The question confronting Fed officials now is whether inflation can slow the rest of the way at a time when consumption remains so strong. Businesses may find that they can charge more if shoppers remain willing to open their wallets.
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