- US inflation have exceeded expectations on all measures.
- Alongside a jump in jobs, America's economy is on fire and the Fed is set to act.
- The dollar has further room to rise, at least until Fed officials open their mouths.
A 6% handle on annual price rises – another milestone has been reached, this time on core inflation. Data for the first month of 2022 is hot out of the oven – and it is steaming hot. While prices of used cars and shelter seemed to have slowed down, there are few silver linings to find.
On a monthly basis, both headline and Core CPI is up 0.6%, while overall annual price rises is at 7.5%, above expectations – and even implying an 8% handle next month.
It is essential to note that this is no longer limited to energy or supply-chain issues, but rather broad price rises. It is accompanied by a job market that is on fire, as jobless claims for the week ending On February 4 show – a drop from 238,000 to 223,000. That comes on top of January's jobs report.
Only six days ago, the Nonfarm Payrolls report came out with an increase of 467,000 positions, accompanied by upward revisions. Wages also jumped according to that NFP, adding to price pressures.
Both figures are critical to the Federal Reserve, which has a dual mandate of full employment and price stability. The data more than cement a March rate hike and perhaps at a scale of 0.50% instead of 0.25%, which is the standard measure. Moreover, the Fed could raise interest rates four times by July – contrary to its projections of hiking only three times throughout the whole of 2022.
That means more pressure on the dollar. The greenback has benefited from a knee-jerk reaction to the figures, but it has even more room to rise as analysts pore over the data.
What could halt the greenback? Only Fed officials can cool things down, by playing down the option of raising rates by 50bp in March. That is what happened last week when hawks such as Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and others calmed markets.
On a relative basis, some currencies could do better than others, if central bankers talk about action to mitigate inflation. The European Central Bank's hawkish twist helped the euro recover against the dollar. After these figures, ECB hawks face an uphill battle.
Overall, King Dollar reigns supreme.