Speed Reads

more inflation, more problems

Key inflation measure soars to 40-year high

A closely-watched inflation measure — the favorite of the Federal Reserve, in fact — in February rose to its highest annual level since 1982, CNBC and The New York Times report Thursday, per the Commerce Department. 

Barring food and energy prices, personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE) jumped 5.4 percent from February 2021, "the biggest jump going back to April 1983," CNBC writes. When accounting for food and energy prices, however, "the headline PCE measure jumped 6.4 percent, the fastest pace since January 1982."

The core increase (the one excluding gas and groceries) was in fact just slightly lower than the 5.5 percent Dow Jones estimate.

Rising prices have continued to squeeze Americans' wallets, as "robust consumer demand" combined with good shortages "fuel the sharpest price jumps in four decades," The Associated Press notes. The Thursday report also apparently does not account for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is expected to disrupt prices even further. 

With inflation up, consumer spending saw just a 0.2 percent increase in February, though that in part reflects "a shift away from heavy spending on goods to a focus on services, such as health care, travel and entertainment, which consumers had long avoided during the worst of the pandemic," AP writes.

President Biden is on Thursday expected to announce the decision to release up to 1 million barrels of oil a day from the U.S.' strategic petroleum reserve in a bid to cut pain at the pump.