Speed Reads

here we go again

Inflation in May hits highest level in more than 4 decades

U.S. inflation increased 8.6 percent from a year ago in May, the fastest increase since December 1981, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The May reading of the Consumer Price Index — which measures what consumers pay for goods and services — was also up from that of April, which saw a slight moderation from March.

Shelter, gasoline, and food prices all contributed to the May jump, CNBC reports. Energy costs rose 34.6 percent from a year ago, while shelter costs jumped 5.5 percent over the same period — "the most since February 1991." Groceries were up 11.9 percent on the year.

Markets did not react well to the report, "with stock futures indicating a sharply lower open on Wall Street and government bond yields rising," CNBC writes. The Friday numbers are also unfortunately at odds with hopes that rampant inflation may have peaked, and perhaps add to concerns the economy is close to a recession.

In an attempt at taming rising prices without triggering an economic downturn, the Federal Reserve has been working fastidiously to cool the economy, most notably by raising interest rates. Officials with the central bank will meet again next week to consider another increase, following a half-point hike in May, notes The Wall Street Journal.

Though he described the May report as "really troubling," economist Justin Wolfers said "there's reason to be optimistic that many goods prices will actually fall."

"And while energy prices have risen, once they stop rising, they'll stop contributing to inflation," he added.