Breaking: US CPI inflation increases to 3.7% in August vs. 3.6% anticipated


Inflation in the US, as measured by the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), surged to 3.7% on a yearly basis in August from 3.2% in July, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Wednesday. This reading came in above the market expectation of  3.6%. The monthly reading came in at 0.6%, matching forecasts, while the core annual reading also met expectations, easing to 4.3% from 4.7% in July. 

As expected, the official report noted that "the index for gasoline was the largest contributor to the monthly all items increase, accounting for over half of the increase." The energy index rose 5.6% in the month, as all major energy component indexes increased.  Additionally, the shelter index rose for the 40th consecutive month.

Market reaction

The US Dollar strengthened as an initial reaction to the news but quickly changed course, now posting modest losses from pre-release levels. Stock markets aim higher, as market players do not believe the higher-than-anticipated annual headline would affect the upcoming Federal Reserve (Fed) monetary policy decisions. On the other hand, the European Central Bank (ECB) will announce its decision on Thursday, and the odds for a 25 basis point (bps) rate hike rose amid rising inflationary concerns. EUR/USD flirted with the weekly high but still can run past 1.0768 as investors await Wall Street's reaction for additional clues. 

US Dollar price today

The table below shows the percentage change of US Dollar (USD) against listed major currencies today. US Dollar was the strongest against the Australian Dollar.

USD   0.05% 0.03% -0.02% 0.26% 0.19% -0.04% 0.10%
EUR -0.05%   -0.02% -0.06% 0.22% 0.14% -0.08% 0.05%
GBP -0.03% 0.03%   -0.04% 0.22% 0.15% -0.08% 0.06%
CAD 0.00% 0.06% 0.03%   0.29% 0.18% -0.04% 0.10%
AUD -0.22% -0.20% -0.24% -0.26%   -0.03% -0.27% -0.15%
JPY -0.19% -0.13% -0.17% -0.20% 0.07%   -0.23% -0.09%
NZD 0.01% 0.05% 0.03% -0.02% 0.26% 0.19%   0.11%
CHF -0.10% -0.04% -0.07% -0.12% 0.14% 0.09% -0.15%  

The heat map shows percentage changes of major currencies against each other. The base currency is picked from the left column, while the quote currency is picked from the top row. For example, if you pick the Euro from the left column and move along the horizontal line to the Japanese Yen, the percentage change displayed in the box will represent EUR (base)/JPY (quote).


Economic Indicator

United States Consumer Price Index (YoY)

The Consumer Price Index released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is a measure of price movements by the comparison between the retail prices of a representative shopping basket of goods and services. The purchase power of USD is dragged down by inflation. The CPI is a key indicator to measure inflation and changes in purchasing trends. Generally speaking, a high reading is seen as positive (or bullish) for the USD, while a low reading is seen as negative (or Bearish).

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Next release: 09/13/2023 12:30:00 GMT

Frequency: Monthly

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Why it matters to traders

The US Federal Reserve has a dual mandate of maintaining price stability and maximum employment. According to such mandate, inflation should be at around 2% YoY and has become the weakest pillar of the central bank’s directive ever since the world suffered a pandemic, which extends to these days. Price pressures keep rising amid supply-chain issues and bottlenecks, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) hanging at multi-decade highs. The Fed has already taken measures to tame inflation and is expected to maintain an aggressive stance in the foreseeable future.

This section below was published as a preview o the US Consumer Price Index at 6:00 GMT

  • The Consumer Price Index in the US is forecast to rise 3.6% YoY in August, up from the 3.2% increase recorded in July.
  • Core CPI inflation is expected to fall sharply to 4.3% YoY in August.
  • US CPI inflation report could significantly impact the US Dollar’s valuation ahead of the Fed’s September policy meeting.

The highly-anticipated US Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data for August will be published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Wednesday at 12:30 GMT. 

The US Dollar (USD) has been outperforming its rivals since mid-July, with macroeconomic data releases highlighting the relatively upbeat performance of the US economy and tight labor market conditions. In his last public appearance at the Jackson Hole Symposium on August 25, Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that the Fed is prepared to raise the policy rate further if appropriate. “Inflation remains too high, the process of bringing down inflation still has a long way to go, even with more favorable recent readings,” Powell said. 

US CPI inflation data could alter the way markets price the Fed’s rate outlook and significantly influence the USD’s valuation. Investors will also pay close attention to the details of the report to see if there is progress in taming sticky parts of inflation. Heading into the event, the CME Group FedWatch Tool shows that markets are pricing in a 40% probability of the Fed raising the policy rate by 25 basis points (bps) before the end of the year. 

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What to expect in the next CPI data report?

The US Consumer Price Index, on a yearly basis, is expected to rise 3.6% in August, at a faster pace than the 3.2% increase recorded in July. The Core CPI figure, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is forecast to rise 4.3% in the same period, down from a 4.7% growth in July.

The monthly CPI and the Core CPI are seen rising 0.6% and 0.2%, respectively. In July and August, Oil prices rose nearly 20%. The impact of rising energy prices on inflation is likely to be reflected in the August CPI increase, hence the 0.6% expectation. Usually, markets pay closer attention to core inflation figures since they strip the price changes in volatile items such as food and energy. Nevertheless, the Fed is unlikely to brush aside the significant increase in energy costs when setting its policy. A stronger-than-expected rise in the CPI could still attract hawkish Fed bets even if the Core CPI eases modestly.

In August, the Prices Paid Index – the inflation component – of the ISM Manufacturing PMI jumped to 48.4 from 42.6 in July, showing a slowdown in input deflation. More importantly, the Prices Paid Index of the ISM Services PMI survey rose to its highest level since April at 58.9, signaling an acceleration in the service sector’s input inflation.

Analysts at Danske Bank provide a brief preview of the key macro data and explain:

“The August CPI marks the final key data release ahead of the September FOMC meeting. We expect the easing wage pressures to translate into further cooling in core services prices, and forecast another core CPI print at +0.2% m/m. While an unchanged rate decision is the clear base case for both us and the markets, the focus will be on the updated 'dots' where a low inflation reading could push some participants to revert their June call for one more hike later in the year.

When will the Consumer Price Index report be released and how could it affect EUR/USD?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data for August will be published at 12:30 GMT on Wednesday. The US Dollar Index, which gauges the USD’s valuation against a basket of six major currencies, is up nearly 3% since early August after posting losses in June and July. 

The market positioning suggests that the USD faces a two-way risk depending on inflation readings. A higher-than-forecast increase in the monthly CPI could reaffirm one more Fed rate hike either in November or December and provide a boost to the USD. On the flip side, the USD could weaken on a downside surprise to the CPI prints. In this last scenario, risk flows are likely to flood the markets and trigger a capital outflow out of the USD with the initial reaction. Investors, however, could refrain from betting on a persistent USD weakness ahead of next week’s all-important Fed policy announcements, which will be accompanied by the revised Summary of Economic Projections.

Dhwani Mehta, Asian Session Lead Analyst at FXStreet, offers a brief technical outlook for EUR/USD and explains: 

“Heading into the US inflation data, risks remain skewed to the downside for EUR/USD, despite the previous rebound, as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) indicator on the daily chart edges lower below the 50 level.”

Dhwani also outlines key technical levels to watch for:

“On the upside, Euro buyers could face stiff resistance at 1.0800, the confluence of the round level and the bearish 21-day Simple Moving Average (SMA). A daily close above the latter will put the 200-day SMA at 1.0828 to test. The next upside barrier is seen at the psychological level of 1.0850.”

“Alternatively, critical support is located at the three-month low of 1.0686. A sustained break below that level will challenge the May low of 1.0635, below a fresh downswing toward 1.0600 cannot be ruled out.”

Fed FAQs

What does the Federal Reserve do, how does it impact the US Dollar?

Monetary policy in the US is shaped by the Federal Reserve (Fed). The Fed has two mandates: to achieve price stability and foster full employment. Its primary tool to achieve these goals is by adjusting interest rates.
When prices are rising too quickly and inflation is above the Fed’s 2% target, it raises interest rates, increasing borrowing costs throughout the economy. This results in a stronger US Dollar (USD) as it makes the US a more attractive place for international investors to park their money.
When inflation falls below 2% or the Unemployment Rate is too high, the Fed may lower interest rates to encourage borrowing, which weighs on the Greenback.

How often does the Fed hold monetary policy meetings?

The Federal Reserve (Fed) holds eight policy meetings a year, where the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) assesses economic conditions and makes monetary policy decisions.
The FOMC is attended by twelve Fed officials – the seven members of the Board of Governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and four of the remaining eleven regional Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis.

What is Quantitative Easing (QE) and how does it impact USD?

In extreme situations, the Federal Reserve may resort to a policy named Quantitative Easing (QE). QE is the process by which the Fed substantially increases the flow of credit in a stuck financial system.
It is a non-standard policy measure used during crises or when inflation is extremely low. It was the Fed’s weapon of choice during the Great Financial Crisis in 2008. It involves the Fed printing more Dollars and using them to buy high grade bonds from financial institutions. QE usually weakens the US Dollar.

What is Quantitative Tightening (QT) and how does it impact the US Dollar?

Quantitative tightening (QT) is the reverse process of QE, whereby the Federal Reserve stops buying bonds from financial institutions and does not reinvest the principal from the bonds it holds maturing, to purchase new bonds. It is usually positive for the value of the US Dollar.

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