Inflation slowed in April after seven months of relentless gains, a tentative sign that price increases may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households. Consumer prices jumped 8.3% last month from 12 months earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That was below the 8.5% year-over-year surge in March, which was the highest rate since 1981, reports the AP. On a month-to-month basis, prices rose 0.3% from March to April, a still-elevated rate but the smallest increase in eight months. Consumer prices had spiked 1.2% from February to March, mostly because of a sudden jump in gas prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Still, the Wall Street Journal points out that the so-called core-price index—which drops some volatile categories, like food and energy—was up 0.6%, a "sharp pickup" from March's 0.3% rise. Nationally, the price of a gallon of regular gas has reached a record $4.40, according to AAA, though that figure isn’t adjusted for inflation. Gas had fallen to about $4.10 a gallon in April, after reaching $4.32 in March. The April report "suggests that the deceleration is going to be painstakingly slow," Principal Global Investors chief strategist Seema Shah tells CNBC.
New disruptions overseas or other unforeseen problems could always send US inflation back up to new highs. If the European Union decides, for example, to cut off Russian oil, gas prices in the United States would likely accelerate. China’s COVID lockdowns are also worsening supply problems and hurting growth in the world’s second-biggest economy. (Read more inflation stories.)