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US economy slowed in recent weeks with inflation, labour cooling

Tan KW
Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 11:06 PM
Tan KW
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US consumer spending, inflation and the labour market all cooled in recent weeks, adding to evidence that the economy is slowing.

Inflation-adjusted personal spending rose 0.2% last month after a downwardly revised 0.3% advance in September, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Separate figures Thursday showed recurring applications for unemployment benefits rose to the highest in about two years.

The figures are consistent with expectations that the economy will moderate in the fourth quarter following the strongest growth pace in nearly two years. Cooler demand may also help reassure the Federal Reserve that inflationary pressures will continue to abate, reinforcing forecasts central bankers are done raising interest rates.

The core personal consumption expenditures price index, which strips out the volatile food and energy components, rose 0.2% last month. From a year ago, the Fed’s preferred gauge of underlying inflation advanced 3.5%.

The Fed’s latest Beige Book survey, released Wednesday, showed economic activity slowed in recent weeks as households pulled back on discretionary spending. Labour demand also eased. Central bank officials are increasingly relying on this type of information to assess the path of the economy and inflation.

The overall PCE price index was unchanged from the prior month, on lower energy prices. On an annual basis, it’s running at 3% - the smallest gain since March 2021 yet still above the Fed’s 2% target.

Supercore inflation

Policymakers pay close attention to services inflation excluding housing and energy, which advanced 0.1% from September, matching the smallest increase this year.

On an inflation-adjusted basis, outlays for goods rose 0.1%, restrained by a drop in spending on durable goods such as motor vehicles. Services spending increased 0.2%.

Meanwhile, real disposable income, the main support to consumer spending, increased 0.3%. That was the biggest gain since May and supported by interest and dividend payments.

Meantime, wages and salaries, unadjusted for inflation, rose just 0.1%, the smallest advance this year. The saving rate edged up to 3.8%.

Separate data out earlier this week showed the US economy grew more than originally estimated in the third quarter. Forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg see economic growth slowing to a 1.2% annualised pace this quarter.


  - Bloomberg


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