You might wonder based on conflicting news reports today (June 15), when the U.S. released its monthly data on consumer prices.
Core US consumer prices rose at their fastest rate for five years in May, making it almost impossible for the Federal Reserve to ponder further monetary easing.
But then there was this odd report from Associated Press:
Falling energy prices cooled overall inflation in May, offering some relief to consumers who have been coping for months with high gas prices.
But the AP story goes on to say:
Consumer prices rose 3.6 percent from June 2010 through May 2011, the biggest one-year gain since October 2008. The yearly gain in the index was only 1.1 percent as recently as November.
Reuters spun the story this way:
U.S. core consumer inflation rose more than expected in May to post its largest increase in nearly three years, lifted by steep rises in motor vehicle and apparel prices. … In the 12 months to May, consumer prices rose 3.6 percent, the biggest jump since October 2008, and well above expectations for a 3.4 percent increase.
What it means: May’s 3.6% annual rate, versus the expected 3.4% rate, was a bit of a shock to the stock market, contributing to a fall of 174 points, or nearly 1.5%, in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
What it means for TIPS: When inflation expectations rise, TIPS mutual funds tend to do well. The TIP ETF was up 0.52% Wednesday.