Stocks have been marching to a steady drumbeat of good news, reflecting vaccine distribution, general reopening optimism, and plenty of government stimulus to get a creaky economy back in gear. The parade stopped cold for a moment, however, before lurching back at an unsteady pace. The cause was inflation, which is as nefarious to markets as a reality as it is as a fear. The Consumer Price Index rose 1.6% in the 12 months to April 2021, up from 1% growth to March. Economists always say that a single month of data can be misleading, and that may have been the case with April’s inflation data. However, the CPI captures pricing trends across the economy, from the cost of raw goods to the consumer reaching for his or her wallet. The data may not be an indication of inflation getting “out of the bag”, but it cannot be ignored either.
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