Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge accelerated in April

May 26, 2023 9:02 AM EDT -- The Federal Reserve's preferred consumer inflation measure unexpectedly accelerated in April, in a sign that inflation remains stubbornly elevated in the U.S. despite a long-standing campaign of interest rate hikes by the central bank.

According to Commerce Department data on Friday, the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index grew by 4.4% last month, up from 4.2% in March. Economists had predicted a cooling to 3.9%.

On a monthly basis, the number expanded as expected, rising by 0.4% after an increase of 0.1%.

Meanwhile, the core figure, which removes volatile food and energy costs, grew by 4.7% annually and 0.4% month-on-month. These rates were faster than projections of 4.6% and 0.3%, respectively.

While the Fed pays close attention to the headline reading, officials at the bank have noted that the core number may be a better indicator of future inflation.

The numbers come as Fed policymakers face a major decision at their next meeting in June. Debate is swirling around whether officials will pause their more than a year-old interest rate tightening cycle aimed at reining in elevated price growth or continue with an eleventh consecutive hike.

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