Afternoon Coffee: Core Consumer Prices Still Off Track, Oracle Shares Tank

The so-called core measure of US consumer prices, excluding food and fuel, rose 0.1% in May, below both the 0.2% projected by economists and the 0.3% increase in April. The slow rise of prices, held back by declining costs for used vehicles, clothing and health care expenses, might reduce the pace at which the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

Shares of the software solutions provider Oracle Corp plunged 7.6% in extended trading Wednesday, after the company reported a larger-than-expected sales decline and profits well below analysts’ forecasts. Management said the strong US dollar and a customer shift to cloud services, which are not not paid for up front like more traditional products, caused software revenue to drop 6% from a year ago.

Consumer confidence, as measured by the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, increased this week to 40.9 from 40.1 the prior week, breaking a record nine-week streak of declines. Rising gas prices had been weighing on consumers’ views of buying conditions, but strengthening jobs and housing data seem to be brightening the national economic mood.

First-time jobless claims fell this week by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000, continuing a trend of steady job creation. As the labor market continues to heat up, economists remain cautiously optimistic, noting that while wage growth remains stagnant, the improving jobs picture could start to nudge wages in the right direction.

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