Inflation grew at the fastest rate in more than a decade last month, but CNBC’s Jim Cramer called it Wall Street’s worst-kept secret, saying the stock market left it.
The consumer price index, which measures the cost of a shopping cart of goods such as food and energy, rose 5% year on year in May, according to the Ministry of Labor. That was high, but only slightly above the 4.7% increase expected by a Dow Jones poll.
“If everyone expects outrageous government statistics, then it’s not really outrageous when you get them,” he said on Mad Money. “When the Department of Labor reported a scorching inflation figure this morning … the market left it.”
Inflation reached its highest rate since August 2008, yet the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to a record close of 4,239.18.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1%, or 19.10 points, to 34,466.24 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ended at 14,020.33, up 0.8%. Both are within 1% of their best closing prices.
Despite rising prices, it is unlikely that the Federal Reserve will change its interest rate position, said Cramer. Central bank officials plan to keep rates near zero to make way for the U.S. economy to recover from last year’s Covid-19 downturn.
“Too many things went wrong in the past year and higher rates won’t solve most of them,” said Cramer. “Companies just weren’t ready to deal with such a strong economy, but this is a high quality problem and they don’t need a rate hike to sort things out. Time will do it for them.”
Fed chief Jerome Powell said the central bank will allow inflation, which he believes will be temporary, to rise above its 2% target. The Fed funds rate, which affects lending, will not rise until the labor market fully recovers, the Fed said.
The country will need to restore more than 7 million jobs to achieve this goal, with the unemployment rate reaching 5.8% last month.
“I think Jay Powell’s step-by-step approach is prudent. I bet he’s going to be totally right,” said Cramer.