US Inflation Forecast: This is how banks preview crucial CPI release


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release the most important inflation measure, the US Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures, on Tuesday, March 14 at 12:30 GMT. As we get closer to the release time, here are the forecasts by the economists and researchers of 10 major banks regarding the upcoming United States inflation print for the month of February.

The annual inflation is expected to decline to 6.0% from 6.4% in January, while the Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is seen at 5.5% from 5.6%. On a monthly basis, the CPI is forecast at 0.4%, while the Core CPI is also expected at 0.4%.


“A further increase in prices at the pump and continued pressure in core categories suggest that prices rose by an uncomfortably fast 0.4% in February. Looking at core (ex. food and energy) categories, shelter prices are set to peak imminently as the typical lags with new leases that are resetting at lower rates kick in, but continued pressure in core services outside of shelter, in line with the tight labor market, will keep the Fed on a tightening path. Moreover, the deflation in core goods prices appears to have ended, as supply chains have normalized, and used car prices as measured by industry gauges climbed in February. A consensus-matching core CPI reading will likely be good enough to keep the Fed on track for a 25 bps hike this month.”

Wells Fargo

“We look for another monthly increase of 0.4% in the overall CPI in February, which would put the YoY rate at 6.0%. We still see inflation set to grind lower, but the process is likely to be bumpy and take time. Despite some directional improvement over the past couple of quarters, prices are still growing well-above the Fed's 2% target, and the tight labor market suggests that there are still inflationary pressures that could forestall a full return to 2% inflation.”


“We expect a softer 0.4% MoM increase in headline CPI due to a retracement of utility gas prices in line with falling natural gas prices. Details should reveal continued strength in key services prices, although starting with February data could be the start of an expected slowing in shelter prices which comprise close to 40% of core CPI. Other non-shelter services should be strong overall, although with a continued drag from the medical insurance component in CPI which notably will not be included in PCE inflation. Prices for medical services themselves, however should remain strong, as should prices for recreation services and transportation services, including a 1.5% MoM bounce back in airfares. Rather than services which should remain consistently strong, the pick-up in core CPI relative to the previous two months should come from goods prices. Most notably, we expect recently rising wholesale measures of used car prices to start to feed through to stronger car prices in CPI.”


“We expect US core CPI inflation to increase by 0.4% MoM and headline CPI to rise by 0.5% in February.”


“In February, although the headline inflation rate is likely to have fallen from 6.4% to 6.1%, the core rate probably fell only slightly from 5.6% to 5.5% and thus remains far too high. At 0.5%, the MoM rate of the core index is likely to be above average again. From the Fed's point of view, such a report would probably not provide convincing enough support for the ‘disinflation process’ identified by Fed Chairman Powell and would therefore argue in favor of stronger interest rate hikes again.”

Credit Suisse

“We expect core CPI inflation to remain steady at 0.4% MoM in February, causing the YoY reading to tick down to 5.5%. Energy and food prices are likely to moderate, with headline inflation also coming in at 0.4% MoM. A reading in-line with our expectations would be uncomfortably high for the Fed, but still consistent with gradual disinflation this year.”

Deutsche Bank

“We think the headline CPI and core CPI  will both round to 0.4% MoM which is where the consensus is. This will translate to headline dropping 0.4pp to 6% YoY and core down a tenth to 5.5% YoY.”

RBC Economics

“We expect Tuesday’s report to show the YoY measure falling to 5.9% in February compared to 6.4% January (which was the lowest reading since October 2021). Much of that easing has come from lower energy prices and signs that food price growth is past its peak. Inflation pressures across other goods and services has also been edging lower, though stickier than expected in recent months. We expect the February numbers to look better with ‘core’ inflation (which excludes food and energy products) dipping to 5.4% from 5.6% in January. Robust US labour market data indicates strong economic momentum at the start of 2023, and stickier inflation suggests it may take longer to get back to the 2% target. This is bolstering the case for further interest rate hikes from the Fed.”


“The energy component may have had only a limited effect on the headline index, with prices remaining more or less flat in this segment in the month. Expected gains for shelter, used vehicles and airline fares could still result in a 0.4% monthly increase in headline prices. The core index may have seen a similar rise, which would translate into a one-tenth drop in the annual rate to 5.5%.”


“Core prices likely gained momentum in February with the index rising a strong 0.5% MoM, as we look for the recent large relief from goods deflation to start normalizing. Shelter inflation likely remained the key wildcard, while slowing gasoline and food prices will likely dent non-core CPI inflation. Our MoM forecasts imply 6.1%/5.5% YoY for total/core prices.”

About US inflation numbers

Price stability is one of the two mandates the Federal Reserve has to decide on its monetary policy (the other one being full employment). Therefore, inflation numbers are some of the economic indicators more heavily scrutinized by central bankers and market players.

Consumer inflation numbers in the United States are tracked mainly through two different measures – the US Consumer Price Index report, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Personal Consumption Expenditures numbers, released by the Bureau of Economic

Analysis through its Personal Income and Outlays report. The second one is the preferred Fed measure for inflation, where the US central bank sets its intended 2% target. When numbers deviate largely from this target, the Federal Reserve usually has to take an aggressive stance on its monetary policy.

That said, the CPI inflation report is usually the one the markets react more sensibly to, as it is always published a couple weeks before, acting as a de-facto leading indicator for the PCE report.

Both inflation reports are released in a monthly basis, and include headline figures and "core" figures. The latter are usually the ones most heavily looked at, as they provide price behaviour through a bag of goods that exclude volatile items such as food or energy.

Other inflation measures are provided in sub-indicatores published on other major data reports, such as the Prices Paid sub-indexes in the ISM Manufacturing and Services PMIs, the Average Hourly Earnings included in the jobs report or the Consumer Inflation Expectations released through the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey.

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