China’s Central Bank Raises Interest Rates China’s central bank raised benchmark lending and deposit rates by a quarter of a percentage point in the latest tightening move to rein in inflation. The central bank said in a statement it will raise the one-year yuan lending rate to 6.31% from 6.06%, and the one-year yuan deposit rate to 3.25% from 3%.
Shelter costs account for 32% of the overall consumer-price index and about 40% of core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy. The tightening rental market, as fewer Americans opt to buy homes, is a key reason why core inflation stopped declining last year and is moving higher.
Unwanted New Item on Menu: Higher Prices Wholesale food prices rose 3.9% in February, according to the U.S. Labor Department, the biggest monthly increase since 1974. Many of the larger chains have contracts with suppliers and so won’t feel the impact until later in the year, while independent restaurants will take a sharper hit. Still, McDonald’s has indicated it will raise prices, he said, and some such as Wendy’s already have.
Office-Space Occupancy on the Rise The national vacancy rate inched down slightly to 17.5% from 17.6% in the fourth quarter, which was the highest level in 17 years. Average effective rents, which include such benefits as free rent and interior work, rose by 0.5% to $22.20 a square foot, still well below the highs of 2008, when effective rents reached $25 a square foot.
Ben Bernanke in Stone Mountain, GA: “the [recent] increase in inflation will be
transitory… Our expectation at this point is that in the medium term inflation, if anything, will be a bit low. We will monitor inflation and inflation expectations very closely.
Apple Crunched in Nasdaq Rebalance In a move likely to ripple across the stock market, Nasdaq OMX plans to announce a rare rebalancing of its Nasdaq-100 index, which will reduce the big weighting of Apple, which currently makes up more than 20% of the Index.