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Inflation slowed to 6.5 percent in December: CPI

Consumer prices slowed further in December, boosting hopes that the worst of red-hot inflation is behind the U.S.

The annual inflation rate fell from 7.1 percent in November to 6.5 percent in December, according to the consumer price index, released Thursday morning. Prices fell 0.1 percent last month after rising 0.1 percent in November.

Those figures -- which are in line with analyst predictions -- mark six straight months of receding annual price growth. 

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, inflation rose 5.7 percent over the last 12 months ending in December and 0.3 percent on a month-to-month basis. 

"Inflation is on its back heels. Consumer price inflation for December couldn't have been much better," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi tweeted.

Food prices rose 0.3 percent, down from 0.5 percent in November. Energy prices fell 4.5 percent in December after falling 1.6 percent in November.

But not everything was slowed: Shelter, meanwhile, rose 0.8 percent month-to-month, up from 0.6 percent in November.

The report is good news for consumers and Wall Street, which is hoping that falling prices will prompt the Federal Reserve to slow down its interest rate hikes. 

Economists have warned that the Federal Reserve's rate hikes could send the U.S. economy into a recession. But Fed officials have insisted that they will continue measures to bring down inflation to their target 2 percent rate.

"It's important to keep in mind that there are costs and risks to tightening policy to lower inflation, but I see the costs and risks of allowing inflation to persist as far greater," Federal Reserve board member Michelle Bowman said Tuesday. 

[Source: By Karl Evers-Hillstrom, The Hill, Washington, 12Jan23]

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