United States President Joe Biden says clear progress has been made in the fight against consumer-level inflation, but more work is necessary. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
March 31 (UPI) -- The latest data on inflation in the U.S. economy shows obvious progress, though there's more work yet to do, President Joe Biden said Friday.
Personal consumption expenditures, a reflection of the amount of money consumers are spending on goods and services, increased by just 0.2% from January to February, the last full month for which data are available.
Stripping out volatile items like food and energy, data show consumer-level inflation dropped from a 0.5% increase from December to January to 0.3% over the period to February.
Biden said Friday that data show that clear progress has been made in the fight against inflation, with the U.S. Federal Reserve increasing its lending rates to slow the economy at a time when banking failures prompted concerns about a meltdown in the global financial sector.
Lending, takeovers and assurances that this is not a repeat of the Great Recession have helped soothe broader market nerves. But more work may be necessary.
"The fight against inflation isn't over, and every day my administration is working to give families more breathing room," he said.
Biden added that he was working to lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors, many of which lived on fixed incomes. Inflation for the price of food, he added, was the lowest in years.
Data Friday show that food prices actually increased by 0.2%, but that's lower than in the past. Energy prices, meanwhile, declined by 0.4% from January to February, though most commodity prices ended the month higher than February levels.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that real GDP increased annually by 2.6% during the fourth quarter, a downward revision from the 2.7% forecast last month.
Private investments and consumer spending drove the bulk of the momentum during the three-month period ending in December. A downturn in consumer spending was largely a reflection of order for durable goods -- like refrigerators and jewelry -- that require long-term and heavy investments.
The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow forecast points to an expansion of 3.2% for the first quarter of 2023, however.
Markets were upbeat on the latest U.S. data. The Dow was up 0.64% and the S&P was up 0.78% as of 12:30 p.m. EDT. The tech-heavy NASDAQ was up 1%, or 121 points.