Three key indicators showing inflation is poised to ease
After months of rising prices and tightening purse strings, the price of semiconductor chips, shipping, and fertilizer is receding down to normal levels—indicating that global inflation might be past its peak.
These three supply-side metrics, which have soared over the last year, pushing inflation levels globally to the highest point in 40 years, are now turning around and falling from their pandemic highs.
The price of semiconductors, which has weighed down industries producing anything from PCs to cars to light bulbs, is finally showing signs of easing. The inSpectrum Tech PC DRAM contract price is at half of its July 2018 peak and down 14% from the same time last year, according to Bloomberg data.
Meanwhile, the spot rate for shipping containers, which is used as an indicator for future prices, has declined 26% since its September 2021 all-time high.
And finally, the price of fertilizer, which has soared since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, is 24% below its record high in March.
Beyond these metrics, analysts are also expecting the consumer price index (CPI) inflation data for May coming in on Friday to moderate.
Easing shortages and moderating consumer prices offer “hope that we have indeed passed the peak in inflation,” James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, told the Financial Times.
The price of chips is going down as a result of the semiconductor chip shortage easing across different industries.
In the smartphone and personal computer industries, semiconductor shortages are likely to ease significantly in the second half of 2022 despite China lockdowns, industry analysis firm Counterpoint Research’s latest smartphone Component Tracker Report said, indicating demand-supply gaps are decreasing across most components.
The auto industry has also said the semiconductor chip shortage is finally receding. Mercedes-Benz, Daimler, and BMW have all said they are getting the high-tech components to produce at full capacity after months of crippling outages.
“We’re still monitoring it week to week, but up to now basically worldwide, we had no issues running production,” Joerg Burzer, Mercedes’s head of production and supply-chain management, told Bloomberg. He added that while supply issues still occur “here and there,” it is “nothing compared to what it was like last year.”
In shipping, the Drewry Shipping Index has decreased marginally each month since September 2021. Last week, Drewry’s World Container Index fell by 0.1% to $7,625.56 per 40-foot container. While still 18% higher than the same week in 2021, it is a long fall from the $10,400 prices seen in September 2021.
In its latest note on Jun. 2 the pricing tracker noted: “Drewry expects index to decrease slowly in the next few weeks.”
Lastly, fertilizer prices have plunged following demand destruction as buyers reel from the soaring prices. The June spot price in Tampa for the nitrogen fertilizer ammonia came in at $1,000 per metric ton—a 30% drop from May’s $1,425 per metric ton, according to Green Markets, Bloomberg’s fertilizer price tracking company.
Green Markets’ North America fertilizer price index shows prices falling from $1,269 in early April, down to $885 this week. The price of fertilizer impacts the price of global food supply, which was up by around 80% in April compared to the same period two years ago, according to the World Bank’s Food Commodity Price Index.
“While inflation in some parts of the world are yet to peak, there are at least some signs emerging that we may not be too far off in terms of a turning point at which we start to see the annual inflation rate start to head lower,” Khoon Goh, Singapore-based head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, told Bloomberg.
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