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US consumer prices dropped 1 percent last month, taking the annualized pace of growth to 3.7 percent, which is the lowest level since October 2007. Falling oil prices takes the credit for lower inflationary pressures with gasoline prices tracking the 50 percent decline in crude. Gas station receipts fell a whopping 14 percent and commodity prices have fallen in general, which has helped to push down transportation costs.
Although the core PPI numbers accelerated, core CPI dropped 0.1 percent and we expect it to head even lower. Less price pressure will give the Federal Reserve more room to cut interest rates. We expect the Fed to cut by another 50bp in December, but it is important to note that Fed Fund futures are pricing in a tiny chance of a 75bp rate cut next month.
The housing market continues to be one of the weakest links in the US economy. Housing starts fell to a record low while building permits dropped to the lowest level in close to 50 years. When you have an environment where foreclosures are rising at a very rapid pace, there is no desire by builders to break new ground.
This afternoon, we have the minutes from the latest FOMC meeting at which the Fed cut interest rates by 50bp to 1 percent. Given the continued concern reflected in Bernanke’s testimony to the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, the Fed is likely to support further easing.
All of the major currency pairs have been consolidating since the middle of last week and the FOMC minutes could be the trigger for a major breakout.