Inflation appears to be no big deal

Vegetables

KAI RYSSDAL: There was a raft of numbers out today you could plow through if you were so inclined. A report on consumer sentiment showed Americans are less sanguine about the economy than they've been in eight months. Prices at the pump and problems in the housing market combined to drive consumer sentiment down.

All the same, that was indeed a sigh of relief you heard from Wall Street today. Because inflation's turning out to be no big deal. Marketplace's Steve Henn explains wholesale prices held mostly steady last month.


STEVE HENN: Wholesale prices for March rose more than expected — up a full 1 percent. But most of the increase came in the form of rising fuel prices. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food costs, was flat.

Chris Low is chief economist at FTN financial.

CHRIS LOW: Coming into this report, we've had two months in a row where every release showed an increasing rate of inflation at the core.

Low was worried if the rate of core inflation didn't ease, the Federal Reserve would be forced to raise interest rates. Today's inflation report provided a bit of breathing room.

But Peter Morici at the University of Maryland doesn't think we're out of the woods yet.

PETER MORICI: One percentage point for just a month is a lot, and I expect another big number in April.

Morici says what's driving inflation, high gas prices and extremely expensive veggies may not bother officials at the Fed, but it's going to drive consumers crazy.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

RYSSDAL: Steve mentioned veggies? You might have seen this at the supermarket yourselves: fresh vegetable prices shot up 13.5 percent last month.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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