U.S. CPI Unexpectedly Rises to 3.2% Annual Pace in February

U.S. CPI Unexpectedly Rises to 3.2% Annual Pace in February

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The U.S. Consumer Price Index rose faster than expected last month, with the year-over-year pace up to 3.2% versus estimates for 3.1% and January’s 3.1%, the government reported Tuesday morning. The core rate – which strips out food and energy costs – dipped a bit, but also disappointed to the upside, coming in at 3.8% against expectations of 3.7% and January’s 3.9%.

On a monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.4% in February, in line with estimates and up from 0.3% in January. The core CPI rose 0.4%, ahead of expectations for 0.3% and flat from January’s 0.4%.

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  • The price of bitcoin (BTC) rose a hair to $72,000 in the minutes following the data.

    Coming into the year, markets had priced in roughly five or six rates cuts in 2024 to begin as soon as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s March meeting (taking place next week). Decent economic growth and inflation figures that remain stubbornly above the Fed’s 2% target, however, have slashed those rate cut expectations. Anticipated timing for the first rate cut has now been pushed out to the summer, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

    The hawkish change to the monetary policy outlook so far hasn’t been a hinderance to bitcoin. The world’s largest crypto has rallied 70% year-to-date to a new record high above $70,000 thanks to massive demand from the spot ETFs.

    A check of traditional markets following the faster than expected numbers finds very modest selloffs in U.S. stock index futures and bonds and a slight rally in the dollar. The price of gold is lower by 0.3%, but at $2,180 per ounce remains near a record high.

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