The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge rose 5.4% in March, the highest since 1983

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The Federal Reserve’s favorite inflation measure showed intensifying price pressures in February, rising to its highest annual level since 1983, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Excluding food and energy prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index increased 5.4% from the same period in 2021, the biggest jump going back to April 1983.

Including gas and groceries, the headline PCE measure jumped 6.4%, the fastest pace since January 1982.

The core PCE increase actually was a touch lower than the 5,5% Dow Jones estimate. On a monthly basis, the gauge was up 0.4%, in line with estimates.

Surging prices dented consumer spending, which rose just 0.2% for the month, below the 0.5% estimate. Personal income increased 0.4%, a touch below the 0.5% expectation.

In other economic news Thursday morning, the Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims totaled 202,000 for the week ended March 26. That was an increase of 14,000 from the previous week and ahead of the 195,000 estimate, but still below the level that prevailed prior to the Covid pandemic.

Continued claims, which run a week behind the headline number and count those who filed for a second week, dropped to just over 1.3 million, the lowest level since Dec. 27, 1969.

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