Later today, Wednesday, 10 April 2024, we get the US consumer inflation data.

  • for March 2024
  • due at 1230 GMT, which is 0830 US Eastern time

This is one of those reports that is critical to the outlook ahead. For example:

  • the Federal Reserve will be eyeing it for the timing of rate cuts ahead, if it's a topside surprise it'll contribute to the speculation of a June delay, and of course if its not it'll add to the prospect of a June cut
  • Japan's Ministry of Finance (and the Bank of Japan) will be eyeing it for the prospects of JPY intervention, if CPI surprises to the topside it'll spur USD/JPY buying and delay potential intervention to support the yen (at the margin)

Anyway, enough of my thinking bubbles, here's what to expect. This snapshot is from the ForexLive economic data calendar, access it here.

Goldman Sachs cpi us data march 2024 2
  • The numbers in the right-most column are the 'prior' (previous month/quarter as the case may be) result. The number in the column next to that, where there is a number, is the consensus median expected.


Taking a look at the range of expectations compared to the median consensus (the 'expected' in the screenshot above) for the key data points:

March CPI Headline y/y range of expectations is showing:

  • 3.4% - 3.7%

CPI Headline m/m range showing:

  • 0.2 to 0.4%

CPI excluding food and energy (the core rate of inflation) y/y range showing:

  • 3.5 - 3.8%

CPI excluding food and energy m/m range showing:

  • 0.2 to 0.4%


Why is knowledge of such ranges important?

Data results that fall outside of market low and high expectations tend to move markets more significantly for several reasons:

  • Surprise Factor: Markets often price in expectations based on forecasts and previous trends. When data significantly deviates from these expectations, it creates a surprise effect. This can lead to rapid revaluation of assets as investors and traders reassess their positions based on the new information.

  • Psychological Impact: Investors and traders are influenced by psychological factors. Extreme data points can evoke strong emotional reactions, leading to overreactions in the market. This can amplify market movements, especially in the short term.

  • Risk Reassessment: Unexpected data can lead to a reassessment of risk. If data significantly underperforms or outperforms expectations, it can change the perceived risk of certain investments. For instance, better-than-expected economic data may reduce the perceived risk of investing in equities, leading to a market rally.

  • Triggering of Automated Trading: In today’s markets, a significant portion of trading is done by algorithms. These automated systems often have pre-set conditions or thresholds that, when triggered by unexpected data, can lead to large-scale buying or selling.

  • Impact on Monetary and Fiscal Policies: Data that is significantly off from expectations can influence the policies of central banks and governments. For example, in the case of the inflation data due today, weaker than expected will fuel speculation of nearer and larger Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) rate cuts. A stronger (i.e. higher) CPI report will diminish such expectations.

  • Liquidity and Market Depth: In some cases, extreme data points can affect market liquidity. If the data is unexpected enough, it might lead to a temporary imbalance in buyers and sellers, causing larger market moves until a new equilibrium is found.

  • Chain Reactions and Correlations: Financial markets are interconnected. A significant move in one market or asset class due to unexpected data can lead to correlated moves in other markets, amplifying the overall market impact.