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NY Fed finds moderating near-term inflation expectations in June

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By Michael S. Derby

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The path U.S. inflation is expected to follow over coming years generally softened in June, amid retreating projections of price increases for a wide array of consumer goods and services, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report released on Monday said.

Inflation a year from now was seen at 3% as of June, from the expected rise of 3.2% in May, while three years from now inflation was seen at 2.9% from May’s 2.8%, according to the bank’s latest Survey of Consumer Expectations. Inflation five years from now was seen at 2.8% from May’s 3%.

The report found that expected price gains for gas, food, rent, medical and college costs all moderated in June relative to what survey respondents projected in May. Expected year ahead home price gains also cooled, hitting 3% in June from the prior month’s 3.3%.

Ebbing price pressure expectations came in a landscape where survey respondents said they see future earnings growth rising at a faster pace and future income growth slowing. Spending expectations held steady at a pace above where it was before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The survey also found respondents saying credit is getting slightly harder to get as they also marked down their household’s financial situation. Respondents’ outlook on the job market was mixed.

The New York Fed report, which is closely watched for what it says about how the public foresees inflation developing, came as central bankers are actively debating whether inflation pressures have moderated enough to allow them to cut their short-term interest rate target.

Fed policymakers want to see inflation move sustainably down to 2% and, after data proved unexpectedly strong over the start of the year, they have been cautious to interpret recent cooling in inflation data as opening the door to a rate cut.

The softening in expected inflation could bolster central bankers’ confidence that price pressures are on the right path. Fed officials have often looked to the relative stability of expected inflation in the face of recent shocks as a reason to be optimistic inflation will ultimately return to target.

“Despite the severity of the shocks, longer-term inflation expectations remained remarkably stable and close to the FOMC’s 2% goal,” New York Fed President John Williams said in a speech last week. “Medium-term expectations returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2022,” he said, adding “and short-term expectations followed suit in 2023.”

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