US consumer spending and inflation slow in October
US consumer spending increased moderately in October, rising by 0.2%, following a more substantial 0.7% gain in September. Consumer spending is a significant contributor to US economic activity, representing over two-thirds of the total.
The moderation in consumer spending is attributed to higher borrowing costs and depleted excess savings, particularly among low-income households. Although wages remain elevated, the rate of increase has slowed, influenced by a softening labor market.
Despite concerns of a potential recession in early 2024, the US economy has defied predictions, growing at a robust annualized pace of 5.2% in the third quarter, the fastest in nearly two years.
However, growth estimates for the fourth quarter are mostly below 2%, and economists anticipate a period of very slow growth, aiming to avoid an outright recession.
Inflation, as measured by the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, remained unchanged in October, following a 0.4% increase in September.
The 12-month PCE price index gain of 3.0% in October was the smallest year-on-year increase since March 2021, down from a 3.4% advance in September.
Excluding volatile food and energy components, the core PCE price index increased by 0.2% in October, following a 0.3% rise in September. The annualized core PCE price index advanced by 3.5% in October, slightly lower than the 3.7% increase in September.
Economists suggest that sustainable monthly inflation readings of 0.2% are needed to bring inflation back to the US central bank’s 2% target.
Fresh signals of cooling demand, slowing consumer spending, and moderate inflation could strengthen expectations that the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hiking campaign may be over, especially if these trends continue.
In summary, the US is experiencing a moderation in consumer spending and a decline in the annual increase in inflation, reflecting the impact of higher borrowing costs and changes in household savings.
Despite concerns about a potential recession, the economy has shown resilience, but growth expectations for the upcoming quarter are more modest. The data may influence perceptions about the trajectory of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.