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Consumer Price Index rose 3.4% in April, slightly below previous month

The Consumer Price Index rose 3.4% in April from a year ago — easing from the previous month but still well above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target as it looks to tamp down inflation.

The latest monthly figure eased slightly from 3.5% in March to 3.4% in April, in line with economists’ forecasts, according to FactSet. Stock futures jumped ahead of the market’s open as traders appeared relieved after getting slammed by several months of surprisingly strong inflation readings this year.

On a month-to-month basis, inflation rose 0.3% last month — slightly lower than the 0.4% forecast after advancing 0.4% in March and February, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday.

Excluding food and energy, the key core inflation reading came in at 0.3% monthly and 3.6% on an annual basis, meeting expectations.

The annual increase in consumer prices has dropped from a peak of 9.1% in June 2022, though progress has stalled. Inflation accelerated in the first quarter amid strong domestic demand after moderating for much of last year.

Last month’s slowdown was a relief after data on Tuesday showed a jump inproducer pricesin April.

On Tuesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that he expects inflation to ultimately reach the central banks 2% target, but admitted that his confidence in that forecast has weakened after three straight months of elevated price readings.

Inflation has fallen sharply from 9.1% in the summer of 2022 but is higher now than in June 2023, when it first touched 3%.

The Feds policymakers have raised their key interest rate to a 23-year high of 5.3% in an effort to quell rising prices.

Powell underscored Tuesday that the Fed will keep its rate at that level for as long as needed to fully conquer inflation, a signal that rate cuts wont begin as soon as many people had hoped.

Economists say inflation is being driven by providers of services like motor vehicle insurance, housing and healthcare catching up to higher costs.

Whether inflation continues its decline will likely have a significant effect on this years presidential race.

Republican critics of President Joe Biden have sought to pin the blame for high prices on the president and to use it to try to derail his re-election bid.

While hiring remains robust and wage growth, on average, healthy, prices remain generally well above where they stood before the pandemic.

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