After skyrocketing in January, US consumer prices rose moderately in line with expectations in February, with an increase of 0.2% for both the main consumer price index (CPI) and the core gauge which excludes food and energy.  The CPI was up 2.2% in the 12 months through February, compared with 2.1% in January, while the core index increased 1.8% from a year earlier for a third month.  This data is consistent with policy makers’ outlook for inflation to continue its move towards the Federal Reserve’s target of 2% without a breakout or sudden acceleration that would necessitate a faster pace of interest rate hikes.  The Fed has projected another trio of quarter-point rate rises for both 2018 and 2019, and will meet again next Wednesday to discuss interest rates, in Jerome Powell’s first meeting since coming to power as its Chairman.  Markets continue to anticipate 3 quarter-point interest rate hikes in 2018, including one for next week.

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