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U.S. Consumer Prices Tick Up In Line With Estimates In February

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With a drop in gasoline prices partly offsetting increases in prices for food, shelter, and recreation, the Labor Department released a report on Wednesday showing a modest uptick in U.S. consumer prices in the month of February.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1 percent in February after climbing by 0.6 percent in January. The uptick in prices matched economist estimates.

The modest increase in consumer prices came even though energy prices tumbled by 1.0 percent in February following a 4.0 percent jump in January.

A pullback in gasoline prices led the drop in energy prices, with gas prices plunging by 3.0 percent in February after spiking by 7.8 percent in the previous month.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices edged up by 0.2 percent in February after rising by 0.3 percent in January. The increase in core prices also came in line with expectations.

The Labor Department said prices for shelter, recreation, apparel, airline fares, motor vehicle insurance, education, and medical care increased during the month.

The report also said the annual rate of consumer price growth accelerated to 2.7 percent in February from 2.5 percent in January. The increase was the biggest since March of 2012.

Core consumer prices in February were up by 2.2 percent compared to a year ago, reflecting a modest slowdown from the 2.3 percent growth seen in January.

On Tuesday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing that producer prices rose by more than expected in the month of February.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand rose by 0.3 percent in February after climbing by 0.6 percent in January. Economists had expected prices to inch up by 0.1 percent.

Excluding food and energy prices, core producer prices still increased by 0.3 percent in February following a 0.4 percent increase in January. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

Compared to the same month a year ago, producer prices were up by 2.2 percent in February versus the 1.6 percent increase in January. The annual rate of growth in core producer prices accelerated to 1.5 percent from 1.2 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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