Inflation Picks Up to 3.2%, Slightly Hotter Than Expected



U.S. inflation was slightly stronger than expected last month but did little to change expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting rates later this year.

Consumer prices rose 3.2% in February from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Tuesday, up slightly from economists’ expectations of 3.1%.

The second straight month of firmer-than-expected inflation is likely to reinforce the central bank’s wait-and-see posture toward rate reductions when officials meet next week. Still, officials are focused on when to cut rates rather than whether to raise them again. Inflation has declined notably from 40-year highs following the most rapid interval of rate increases in four decades.