US inflation had another hot month in March, rising 3.5% — the latest data point that throws doubt on when the Federal Reserve will actually begin to cut interest rates as early as June.

The figure marks the highest year-over-year increase since December 2023, when the inflation reading came in at 3.4%.

March’s Consumer Price Index — a measure of changes in the costs of everday goods and services — came in a tick higher than the 3.4% headline inflation figure economists surveyed by FactSet expected, and edged higher from February’s 3.2% reading.

The reading is apt to be cool comfort for Fed officials, who have reiterated that they’re working to tamp inflation down to 2% — a figure the US economy has not seen in more than a decade.

When inflation persists as it has in recent months despite the current 22-year high benchmark federal funds rate, the Fed has traditionally hiked interest rates even further in an effort to slow the economy.

Fed officials have already expressed that a rate cut may no longer be in the cards for 2024.

“If we continue to see inflation moving sideways, it would make me question whether we needed to do those rate cuts at all,” Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari said in an interview last week previously reported on by CBS.

A day later, Fed Governor Michelle Bowman said on Friday that interest rates may even move higher.

While it is not my baseline outlook, I continue to see the risk that at a future meeting we may need to increase the policy rate further should progress on inflation stall or even reverse, Bowman said in prepared remarks to a group of Fed watchers in New York on Friday.

Reducing our policy rate too soon or too quickly could result in a rebound in inflation, requiring further future policy rate increases to return inflation to 2% over the longer run, she added, per CNBC.

March’s surprisingly resilient jobs report — which blew past economist expectations and said employers increased their payrolls by a staggering 303,000 last month — also didn’t serve well for rate-cut timing.

Historically, a strong job market keeps wages and consumer spending levels elevated, thus fanning inflation and interest rates, which Wall Street is widely expecting Fed officials to slash three times — by a cumulative 0.75 percentage points — by the end of the year.

The latest economic data muddies the path forward, especially after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said ahead of the CPI’s release that central bankers will “let the incoming data guide our decisions on policy.”

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In the same remarks Powell prepared for an audience at the Stanford Graduate School of Business last week, he added that interest rates can start to come down once inflation cools.

However, Wednesday’s data from the Bureau of Labor Statistucs showed that on a monthly basis, price growth rose 0.4% on a monthly basis, primarily driven by shelter and gasoline, which contributed to more than half of the advance.

The indexes for motor vehicle indurance, medical care, apparel and personal care were also responsible for the increase.

The indexes for used cars and trucks, recreation and new vehicles, meanwhile, dropped, and the food index rose just 0.1% in March.

Core CPI a number that excludes volatile food and energy prices held steady from February, at 3.8%.

The figure — which is a key gauge of underlying inflation — was also higher than the 3.7% economists surveyed by FactSet expected.

The latest CPI data means that consumer prices still have yet to fall year-over-year since President Joe Biden’s term began in January 2021.

The closest the economy has gotten to a yearly decrease since Biden took office was in July 2022, when the inflation rate remain unchanged, at a sky-high 8.5%.