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CPI data released early, says Labor Department

Liu Jie/Xinhua via Getty Images

Information about Wednesday’s critical Consumer Price Index release circulated early on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, according to a statement from the agency.

“Prior to (Wednesday’s) release of CPI and actual earnings, the BLS inadvertently loaded a subset of files onto the website approximately 30 minutes before release,” the BLS said in a brief statement.

The release provided few other details, but said the Department of Labor agency notified the department’s Office of Management and Budget and Office of Inspector General.

“BLS takes the security of its data seriously and is conducting a thorough investigation into its procedures and controls to ensure that the incident does not recur,” the bureau said.

No further information was provided regarding the anticipated release of the CPI, a key inflation indicator that showed another rise in April, although slightly lower than the Wall Street consensus had expected. BLS officials did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment Thursday morning.

Stock market futures rebounded after the 8:30 a.m. ET release, although there was little unusual activity over the previous half hour, indicating that the early release was not widely seen and had no material impact on trade.

“It was weird, because usually you monitor all the ticks in advance and I didn’t notice anything unusual, so I wonder how important that was,” said Peter Boockvar, director investments at Bleakley Advisory Group. “I haven’t seen anything that could explain the exchanges that took place before.”

The BLS changed the way it publishes data several years ago. Previously, he had provided the media with advance copies under seal at the bureau’s Washington, D.C., office for prompt release at 8:30 a.m.

However, department officials during the Donald Trump administration had expressed concerns that customers of some blocked outlets were gaining an unfair business advantage through the system and ended the deal. Information is now provided on the site around 8:30 a.m., without pre-publication.

“You always have to wonder who ruined everything,” Boockvar said. “I don’t think it’s a persistent thing. It seems to be one-off.”

The all-items CPI for goods and services across the sprawling U.S. economy showed a monthly increase of 0.3%, slightly below the 0.4% estimate, and a rate on 12 months of 3.4%.

Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, stood at a monthly rate of 0.3% and an annual rate of 3.6%, the lowest since April 2022. Stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday.

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