The Week in Business: Inflation Moderates

After months of price climbing higher and higher with no indication of loosening, the past month has brought some relief. New inflation data on Wednesday showed the consumer price index rose 8.5% on the year to July, a notable slowdown from June, when prices rose 9 .1%. Lower prices for airline tickets, used cars, hotel rooms and gasoline drove the drop, with the national average for a gallon of gasoline falling sharply since the start of the summer . But the inflation report is not the unqualified good news that it may seem at first glance. A measure that excludes food and fuel price volatility rose 5.9%, suggesting that underlying inflationary pressures remain strong. Still, the general pace of moderation should reassure Federal Reserve policymakers, who will see the July data as a step in the right direction. And it’s a victory for President Biden, for whom high inflation is a political handicap. However, the outcome is uncertain: last year, inflation accelerated in the fall after cooling in the summer.

As analysts expected, The Walt Disney Company lowered its ambitious subscriber target for Disney+, conceding it would not be able to reach 230-260 million subscribers by 2024, as it once said so. But the company announced another remarkable subscriber benchmark: surpassing Netflix. Disney+ added more than 14 million subscribers in the last quarter, far exceeding Wall Street forecasts and growing Disney’s streaming service portfolio to 221 million subscribers. (Netflix, which has lost subscribers, now has about 220.7 million.) The subscriber news was just one of the highlights of Disney’s earnings report last week. Disney said its profits jumped 50%, fueled by strong demand for its theme parks – an indication that consumer confidence remains high despite economists’ concerns that inflation is leading Americans to tighten budgets.

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