Retail Apparel Prices Increase for Second Straight Month as Overall CPI Rises

Retail Apparel Prices Increase for Second Straight Month as Overall CPI Rises

The Labor Department said on Tuesday its Consumer Price Index rose 0.2 percent last month after jumping 0.5 percent in January.

Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal expected consumer prices to rise 0.2% in February, and core prices to rise 0.2%.

Note that the Fed tracks the core PCE price index for its inflation measure. Focus now turns to U.S. consumer price data due later on Tuesday for the global markets to gauge inflation trends in the world's largest economy and as a guide for upcoming Federal Reserve policy.

Inflation softened last month mainly on account of cheaper food prices and lower cost for fuel.

The Federal Reserve wants to see inflation at roughly a 2 percent pace, as a hedge against deflation, which can bring down wages as well as prices.

USA stocks opened higher on Tuesday as investors digested the newly released consumer price data.

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Consumer durables recorded a growth rate of 8 per cent as against a decline of 2 per cent in the same month a year ago.

Prices for women's and girls' apparel increased 1.5% in February, while men's and boys' clothing prices were up 1.7%. Strong IIP growth of 7.5 percent in January; capital goods grow by 14.6 percent; manufacturing at 8.7 percent; infrastructure/construction goods at 6.8 percent. Economists polled by Bloomberg News had expected an annual reading of 4.7 percent. The food index was unchanged in February, while the energy index increased slightly. The energy index rose 7.7% in the last twelve months. While the manufacturing sector grew 8.7% in January, compared with 2.5% in the same month previous year, capital goods grew 14.6% and consumer non-durables 10.5% in the month under review.

Inflation for the fuel and light category was at 6.80 per cent in February (against 7.73 per cent in January). Food inflation fell almost 150 basis points (bps) on-month, while core inflation was flat.

The central bank expects inflation to pick up to 5.1-5.6 percent in April-September and then ease later on anticipation of for normal rainfall. "Although past year we faced a disconnect between the continued strengthening in the labor market and the step-down in inflation, mounting tailwinds at a time of full employment and above-trend growth tip the balance of considerations in my view", Fed Governor Lael Brainard said last week.

Gas prices and the cost of hospital services declined, but apparel prices and vehicle insurance rates spiked, which ticked the overall rate higher, Bank of Montreal economist Robert Kavcic noted.

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