U.S. inflation accelerated in May to the fastest pace in more than six years, reinforcing the Federal Reserve’s outlook for gradual interest-rate hikes while eroding wage gains that remain relatively tepid despite an 18-year low in unemployment.
The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent from the previous month and 2.8 percent from a year earlier, matching estimates, a Labor Department report showed Tuesday. The annual gain was the biggest since February 2012 and follows a 2.5 percent increase in April. Excluding food and energy, the core gauge was up 0.2 percent from the prior month and 2.2 percent from May 2017, also matching the median estimates of economists.
The pickup in headline inflation partly reflects gains in fuel prices, though the annual gain in the core measure -- seen by officials as a better gauge of underlying inflation trends -- was the most since February 2017. While the Fed is widely projected to raise borrowing costs this week for the sixth time in 18 months, the path of inflation will figure into policy makers’ thinking on the pace of increases for the second half and in 2019.