September 9, 2019 / 3:12 PM / a month ago

U.S. consumer inflation expectations decline to a new low: NY Fed survey

(Reuters) - U.S. consumers’ inflation expectations slid in August and workers grew more pessimistic about their job situation, data from the New York Federal Reserve showed on Monday, supporting the case for further interest rate cuts from the Fed.

FILE PHOTO: A customer shops for a turkey at a Walmart store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

The New York Fed’s monthly survey of consumer expectations, which Fed officials look at along with other data on pricing, showed consumers’ one-year inflation outlook declined 0.2 percentage point to 2.4% last month, the lowest since the survey was launched in 2013. The three-year outlook for inflation expectations fell by 0.1 percentage point to 2.5%.

Fed officials cited weak inflation as one of the concerns that motivated them to cut interest rates in July for the first time in more than a decade. Investors widely expect officials to cut interest rates again when the central bank meets Sept. 17-18, but policymakers disagree on how much the Fed should intervene amid mixed economic data.

The U.S. economy is producing an inflation rate persistently short of the Fed’s 2% goal. Officials are divided on whether a rate cut is needed at a time when the unemployment rate is near a 50-year low and consumer spending is strong. The Fed currently targets short-term rates between 2.00% and 2.25%.

Slipping inflation expectations - here

The New York Fed’s inflation survey is conducted by a third party and polls a rotating panel of about 1,300 households.

The report also showed U.S. consumers are growing more concerned about their job security. Workers are skeptical that the U.S. unemployment rate will stay near today’s lows. Consumers said there is a 38.3% chance the unemployment rate will be higher in one year, up 2.2 percentage points from the month before and above the 12-month average of 36.6%.

Consumers also said they expect their earnings to grow more slowly over the next year, with median growth projections dropping by 0.1 percentage point to 2.3%, below the 12-month trailing average of 2.5%. The perceived risk of losing a job over the next year increased for the second month in a row to an average 14.2% in August from 13.8% in July.

However, consumers feel more confident about their chances of finding new jobs if they were to become unemployed. The perceived chances of finding a new role rose to 60% in August from 59.8% in July.

The survey data comes on the heels of a middling monthly jobs report that showed U.S. job growth slowed more than expected in August.

Economic data have shown that U.S. consumers in recent weeks have became more concerned about the lingering effects of the trade war between the United States and China, a slowdown in business investment and a contraction in the manufacturing sector.

That uneasiness appeared to be reflected in the New York Fed report, where some 38% of those surveyed expect U.S. stock prices to be higher in a year, the lowest level since October 2016.

Stock market expectations fading - here

Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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