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Key Fed measure shows inflation rose 2.6% in May from a year ago, as expected

An important economic measure for the Federal Reserve showed Friday that inflation during May slowed to its lowest annual rate in more than three years.

The core personal consumption expenditures price index increased just a seasonally adjusted 0.1% for the month and was up 2.6% from a year ago, the latter number down 0.2 percentage point from the April level, according to a Commerce Department report.

Both numbers were in line with the Dow Jones estimates. May marked the lowest annual rate since March 2021, which was the first time in this economic cycle that inflation topped the Fed's 2% target.

Including food and energy, headline inflation was flat on the month and also up 2.6% on an annual basis. Those readings also were in line with expectations.

Outside of the inflation numbers, the Bureau of Economic Analysis report showed that personal income rose 0.5% on the month, stronger than the 0.4% estimate. Consumer spending, however, increased 0.2%, weaker than the 0.3% forecast.

Prices were held in check during the month by a 0.4% decline for goods and a 2.1% slide in energy, which offset a 0.2% increase in services and a 0.1% gain for food.

However, housing prices continued to rise, up 0.4% on the month for the fourth straight time. Shelter-related costs have proven stickier than Federal Reserve officials have anticipated and have helped keep the central bank from reducing interest rates as expected this year.

Stock market futures were modestly positive following the report while Treasury yields were negative on the session.

Investors have been trying to handicap the Fed's intentions on rates this year and have had to scale back expectations. Whereas traders earlier in 2024 had been expecting at least six rate cuts this year