(Reuters) - The U.S. Consumer Price Index was unexpectedly unchanged in May amid cheaper gasoline, but inflation likely remains too high for the Federal Reserve, which concludes it regular policy meeting later on Wednesday, to start cutting interest rates before September.

The flat reading reported by the Labor Department on Wednesday followed a 0.3% increase in April. In the 12 months through May, the CPI advanced 3.3% after increasing 3.4% in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the CPI edging up 0.1% and gaining 3.4% year-on-year.

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI climbed 0.2% in May, less than April's 0.3% rise. Year over year, the core CPI increased 3.4%, the smallest 12-month gain since April 2021, after a 3.6% advance in April. Inflation continues to run above the U.S. central bank's 2% target.


STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures extended a gain to +0.72%, pointing to a strong open on Wall Street BONDS: The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield tumbled to 4.293% and the two-year yield fell to 4.71%FOREX: The dollar index extended a fall to -0.7% and the euro extended its early rise to +0.74%



"The May US CPI report is one that should provide the FOMC with some degree of further confidence in the disinflationary process back towards the 2% target, with headline CPI remaining unchanged on an MoM basis, for the first time since last June. Furthermore, core CPI slipped further on an annual basis, hitting a more than 3-year low at 3.4%."

    "While such data will support the view that April's cooler price data was not a one-off, it is unlikely, on its own, to provide the FOMC with enough confidence to deliver a rate cut just yet, with the next FOMC decision due later today."

    "Nevertheless, the data does lessen the chances of a hawkish shift in Chair Powell's rhetoric at the post meeting press conference, even if the dot plot is likely to show a median expectation of 50bp, from 75bp, of cuts this year. Markets, as near as makes no difference, now price 2 cuts as the most likely outcome, in line with our base case expectation, for cuts to begin in September, followed by another such 25bp reduction in December."


"The headline number was flat, but that had a lot of uncertainty around it. The core number, which is more signal than noise, was below the consensus. After three months of veering off-track, the disinflation bus is back on the road to 2%."

(Compiled by the Global Finance & Markets Breaking News team)