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Consumer prices jump 5% in May, fastest pace since the summer of 2008

Inflation is on the rise


Headline consumer prices rose 5% year over year in May, the fastest pace since August 2008 and higher than Wall Street expectations.


The 3.8% rise in the core inflation rate, which excludes food and energy prices, was the sharpest increase in nearly three decades.


Surging used car car prices helped drive much of the inflation gains.


Initial jobless claims totaled 376,000, a touch higher than the estimate.


Consumer prices for May accelerated at their fastest pace in nearly 13 years as inflation pressures continued to build in the U.S. economy, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The consumer price index, which represents a basket including food, energy, groceries, housing costs and sales across a spectrum of goods, rose 5% from a year earlier. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting a gain of 4.7%.


The reading represented the biggest CPI gain since the 5.3% increase in August 2008, just before the financial crisis sent the U.S. spiraling into the worst recession since the Great Depression.


Though the inflation readings are well above anything seen since the 2008-09 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has been largely dismissive of the numbers. Central bank officials believe the current rise is due to temporary factors that will abate as the year goes on and look higher because of comparisons to the year-ago period, when much of the economic activity remained restricted due to pandemic precautions.

Consequently, market participants generally do not expect to see the Fed react to the latest numbers when the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee meets next week.


Used cars and truck prices continued their climb higher, rising 7.3% on the month and 29.7% for the past 12 months. The new vehicles index increased 1.6%, its biggest-single month gain since October 2009 and was up 3.3% for the 12-month period, the highest move since November 2011.


However, the energy index was about flat for the month despite the huge runup in gasoline prices this year, while the food index repeated its April rise of 0.4%.

The gasoline index is up 56.2% over the past year, part of an overall 28.5% increase in energy during the period. Food prices have remained comparatively tame, up 2.2% for the 12-month period.

A separate gauge that excludes volatile food and energy prices increased 3.8%, vs the Dow Jones estimate of 3.5% for so-called core inflation. That was the fastest pace since May 1992.


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