US inflation rose 3.1% in November, stubbornly above the Federal Reserve’s long-term target and bolstering the case for central bankers to keep interest rates at current levels this spring.

The Consumer Price Index — which tracks changes in the costs of everyday goods and services — was down slightly from October’s 3.2% reading, in line with economists’ forecasts, and was its lowest monthly reading since June.

Nevertheless, it remained well above the 2% pace eyed by the Fed — a figure the US economy hasn’t seen since 2012 — as central bankers have ratcheted interest rates to a 22-year high, between 5.25% and 5.5%, in hopes of an economic slowdown.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics attributed the second consecutive month-over-month slowdown to the gasoline index, which saw a 6% decline from last month.

Core CPI a number that excludes volatile food and energy prices and serves as a closely watched gauge among policymakers for long-term trends increased 0.2% in November after rising 0.3% in October.

Per AAA figures, gas averages at about $3.14 in the US on Tuesday, down from the $3.35-per-gallon average when last month’s CPI report was released.

The shelter index, which tracks housing costs, rose 0.4%, “offsetting a decline in the gasoline index,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has kept economists guessing about whether another rate hike is impending, though central bankers themselves have even seemed to be wrestling with conflicting economic signals.

In a hawkish speech earlier this month, he insisted that central bankers will continue their tightening regime until the job is done and inflation is once again 2%.

We are prepared to tighten policy further if it becomes appropriate to do so, he said during a fireside chat at Spelman College in Atlanta.

The full effects of our tightening have likely not yet been felt,” Powell insisted.

However, just days earlier he seemed to take a more cautious approach to raising interest rates moving forward, noting that central bankers were “proceeding carefully,” according to minutes of the Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 session, when the Fed ended up holding the benchmark overnight interest rate steady in the current 5.25% to 5.5% range.

Meanwhile, the CME FedWatch Tool now projects a more than 98% chance that the Fed doesnt raise rates again this year — up from 85% last month.

Economists and prominent Wall Street executives have been worried that without a rate cut soon, the economy could be headed for a so-called “hard landing” — where interest rates are taken so high that it spurs a recession — especially following November’s strong jobs report that signaled the economy’s momentum has continued despite the Fed’s tightening cycle.

US employers added a higher-than-expected 199,000 jobs last month, well above the 180,000 jobs economists expected to be added, according to Refinitiv data.

However, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.7% a sign that the economy could skirt a recession in favor of a soft landing.

Lower hiring stints combined with higher-than-expected unemployment historically signals a recession.

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