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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The core Consumer Price Index (CPI), which tracks prices of goods and services excluding food and energy, rose by 0.3% in July on a month-over-month basis.

Why it matters: The reading shows a slowdown in the rate at which inflation has been rising, after a 0.9% increase in June and 0.7% in May.

  • The Federal Reserve is watching closely for signs that inflation is getting overheated, which could lead it to pull back its emergency market support sooner rather than later.
  • Economists expected a 0.4% rise.

The big picture: While inflation is still high by historical standards, Wednesday's figures show that it may have peaked, at least for the time being. Another inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures index (PCE), also retreated from a peak monthly growth level in its most recent reading on July 30.

  • The headline CPI figure, which includes energy and food prices, showed a 0.5% monthly increase, compared to a 0.9% uptick in June.
  • On a year-over-year basis, July’s core CPI and headline CPI figures rose 4.3% and 5.4%, respectively.

Zoom in: Used vehicle prices rose 0.2%, after a 10.5% rise in June. They're up 41.7% since a year ago.

  • The slowdown in used vehicle price growth was a major factor in the decelerating overall CPI growth.
  • New vehicle prices rose 1.7% in July, after 2% growth in June.
  • Transportation services were down 1.1%, and airline fares fell slightly, by 0.1%, after sharp rises in prior months.
  • Food prices grew 0.8%, after 0.7% growth in June.

Go deeper

Biden asks FTC to investigate gas and oil companies for “illegal conduct”

President Biden speaking in front of a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., Nov. 16. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan Wednesday asking the agency to determine whether “illegal conduct” by large oil and gas companies is pushing up gasoline prices.

Why it matters: It's unlikely that the letter will bring down gas prices anytime soon, though an FTC investigation could clarify how such companies determine prices.

Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democratic senators grill Powell on plan for inflation

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell walks through the Hart Senate Office Building last month. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is facing questions in private meetings with Democratic senators this week about how he plans to counter soaring inflation, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Democrats' intense focus on inflation reveals their concern rising prices are becoming a political liability. It also shows they're looking to the next Federal Reserve chair to devise a strategy to defeat it. President Biden promised to announce his choice as early as Friday.

Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats urge Biden to do more about inflation

Rep. Elissa Slotkin greets President Biden as he arrives in Lansing, Michigan, last month. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Frontline Democrats in the House and Senate are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of urgency to combat rising prices, and are calling on President Biden to do more as consumers confront sticker shock ahead of the holidays.

Why it matters: The current party-line message on increasing inflation is that it's largely a product of the pandemic, and economists expect prices to come down early next year. However, many Democrats facing tough reelection fights think the Biden administration could be doing more to accelerate the process.