Speed Reads

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Consumer prices jumped a whopping 8.5 percent from a year ago in March

Inflation continued its reign of terror last month, as skyrocketing energy prices and surging housing costs pushed the metric to a fresh 40-year high, NBC News reports.

Consumer prices increased 8.5 percent from a year ago in March, "the fastest inflation rate since 1981," The New York Times reports, and the sixth straight month in which inflation came in above 6 percent, per The Wall Street Journal.

A "substantial chunk" of the jump can be attributed to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its resulting effect on food and gas prices, the Times and the Journal note. But surging rental rates have also had hand in the problem — rents "climbed 4.4 percent in March year-over-year, compared with 4.2 percent in February," reports NBC News.

In somewhat better news, however, economists expect the price increases to cool in the coming months, given gas prices have begun to slightly drop.

"These numbers are likely to represent something of a peak," Gregory Daco, an economist at Ernst & Young, told the Times. Researchers are also expecting consumers to pare back their spending on goods, "potentially taking pressure off overburdened supply chains and allowing prices for those products to moderate," the Times writes.

But of course, there's plenty of uncertainty ahead that could alter that projection — the ongoing war in Ukraine and China's COVID-19 outbreak, for example.

Otherwise, the high prices come at a time when "the overall economy is strong and the labor market is tight," the Journal notes.