U.S. consumer spending ends 2022 on weaker footing; inflation slowing

U.S. consumer spending ends 2022 on weaker footing; inflation slowing

  • Consumer spending falls 0.2% in December
  • Personal earnings will increase 0.2%; financial savings price rises to three.4%
  • Core PCE worth index good points 0.3%; up 4.4% year-on-year

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending fell for a second straight month in December, placing the economic system on a decrease progress path heading into 2023, whereas inflation continued to subside, which may give the Federal Reserve room to additional gradual the tempo of its rate of interest hikes subsequent week.

The report from the Commerce Department on Friday additionally confirmed the smallest acquire in private earnings in eight months, partially reflecting average wage progress, which doesn’t bode properly for consumer spending. Though the drop in spending was largely within the items sector, companies outlays basically stalled.

“Hammered by increased costs and borrowing prices, and feeling much less rich, U.S. households are chopping again, and can seemingly contribute to a contraction in GDP within the first quarter,” stated Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. “The excellent news is that also they are pushing again towards worth hikes, which can assist the Fed sort out inflation and restrict additional price hikes.”

Consumer spending, which accounts for greater than two-thirds of U.S. financial exercise, dropped 0.2% final month. Data for November was revised decrease to indicate spending slipping 0.1% as an alternative of gaining 0.1% as beforehand reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending dipping 0.1%.

The knowledge was included within the advance fourth-quarter gross home product report revealed on Thursday, which confirmed consumer spending sustaining a stable tempo of progress and serving to the economic system to develop at a 2.9% annualized price.

The weak handover to 2023 raises the dangers of a recession by the second half of the yr, but additionally reduces the necessity for the U.S. central financial institution to keep up a very aggressive financial coverage stance. The Fed’s quickest price climbing cycle for the reason that Nineteen Eighties has pushed the housing market into recession and manufacturing is within the early levels of a downturn.

Higher borrowing prices have undercut demand for items, that are sometimes purchased on credit score. In December, there was a broad decline in items spending, partly reflecting decrease gasoline costs, which undercut receipts at service stations.

Spending on long-lasting manufactured items like motor automobiles, leisure items and family furnishings and tools decreased 1.9%. Durable items spending plunged 3.0% in November. Spending on nondurables like clothes and footwear declined 1.4% final month.

Though progress in spending on companies helps to anchor consumption, some households, particularly these with decrease incomes, have depleted financial savings accrued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the scope of good points.

Spending on companies elevated 0.5% final month, matching November’s acquire. Services outlays have been supported by housing and utilities, air journey, and healthcare, in addition to recreation.

But Americans in the reduction of spending at eating places and bars. That may have been the results of freezing temperatures or could possibly be signaling shoppers pulling again on discretionary spending as recession dangers mount.

Stocks on Wall Street have been largely increased. The greenback rose towards a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury costs fell.


The private consumption expenditures (PCE) worth index edged up 0.1% final month after rising by the identical margin in November. In the 12 months by December, the PCE worth index elevated 5.0%. That was the smallest year-on-year acquire since September 2021 and adopted a 5.5% advance in November.

Excluding the unstable meals and power parts, the PCE worth index gained 0.3% after climbing 0.2% in November. The so-called core PCE worth index rose 4.4% on a year-on-year foundation in December, the smallest advance since October 2021, after rising 4.7% in November.

The Fed tracks the PCE worth indexes for financial coverage. Other inflation measures have additionally slowed down considerably.

Reuters Graphics Reuters Graphics

The bettering inflation image was underscored by the University of Michigan survey on Friday displaying shoppers’ 12-month inflation expectations dropped to a 21-month low of three.9% in January.

UMich inflation expectations

The Fed final yr raised its coverage price by 425 foundation factors from close to zero to a 4.25%-4.50% vary, the best since late 2007. Financial markets have priced in a 25-basis-point price improve on the U.S. central financial institution’s Jan. 31-Feb. 1 assembly, based on CME’s FedWatch Tool.

“The economic system is not out of the woods in terms of inflation, however financial officers down in Washington are making progress in slowing the worrisome worth will increase seen within the first half of 2022,” stated Christopher Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS in New York.

Adjusting for inflation, consumer spending fell 0.3% in December, the largest decline in a yr, after reducing 0.2% in November. This places consumer spending on a decrease progress base initially of the primary quarter.

With private earnings rising 0.2%, the smallest acquire since April, after rising 0.3% in November, the outlook for spending is unsure. Wages rose 0.3%, matching November’s improve. But there may be hope that the largest price of residing adjustment since 1981 for greater than 65 million Social Security beneficiaries, which got here into impact in January, will restrict the decline in consumer spending.

Retreating inflation can also be lifting shoppers’ buying energy. Income on the disposal of households after accounting for inflation elevated 0.2%. The financial savings price rose to a seven-month excessive of three.4% from 2.9% in November, with revisions to earlier knowledge displaying a extra average tempo of financial savings drawdown than beforehand estimated

“We estimate households nonetheless have about 9 months of spending energy in the event that they continued to attract down extra saving on the tempo they’ve the previous six months,” stated Tim Quinlan, a senior economist at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Dan Burns, Jonathan Oatis and Andrea Ricci

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