Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday will update his views on U.S. inflation and the economy following the release of data showing price increases running faster than the central bank chief last week anticipated.

Government data showed the personal consumption expenditures price index increased at a 2.5% annual rate in February, up from 2.4% the month before. Notably the number excluding volatile food and energy prices rose 0.3% on a month to month basis, counter to Powell's expectation last week that the figure would be "well below" 0.3% and remain in line with the Fed's outlook for inflation to continue slowing to the Fed's 2% target.

Some details of the report, economists noted, did show improvement in aspects of inflation that the Fed considers particularly important, even as the headline numbers have shown little progress in the first two months of the year.

Powell is scheduled to answer questions at an appearance at 11:30 a.m. EDT at the San Francisco Fed, where he will be interviewed by Kai Ryssdal of public radio's "Market Place."

His appearance follows the Fed's decision last week to hold the policy interest rate steady at the current range of from 5.25% to 5.5%, while also reaffirming - narrowly - a baseline projection that the rate will fall by 0.75 percentage points by the end of the year.

Powell in recent weeks has had to reconcile expectations that the Fed has built over recent weeks for rate cuts to begin this year, with data showing improvement in the inflation numbers has slowed, if not stalled.

In the past three weeks Powell has said the central bank was "not far" from the point where it would be comfortable cutting interest rates, then refused to repeat the thought when given the opportunity. He has said recent high inflation did not change the overall "story" of easing price pressures but also said recent data could not be completely dismissed as a signal of slowing progress.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and Chizu Nomiyama)