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U.S. Consumer Prices Climb 0.6% In January Amid Jump In Energy Prices

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Consumer prices in the U.S. increased by much more than expected in the month of January, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Wednesday.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index climbed by 0.6 percent in January after rising by 0.3 percent in December. Economists had expected prices to rise by another 0.3 percent.

The bigger than expected increase in consumer prices was partly due to a spike in energy prices, which surged up by 4.0 percent in January after jumping by 1.2 percent in December.

Gasoline prices showed a particularly sharp increase during the month, soaring by 7.8 percent. Prices for natural gas also climbed by 1.5 percent.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, rose by 0.3 percent in January after edging up by 0.2 percent in the previous month. Core prices had been expected to show another 0.2 percent uptick.

The Labor Department said the increase in core prices reflected higher prices for apparel, new vehicles, motor vehicle insurance, and airline fares.

With the bigger than expected monthly increase, the annual rate of consumer price growth accelerated to 2.5 percent in January from 2.1 percent in December. The increase was the biggest since March of 2012.

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

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

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand climbed by 0.6 percent in January after rising by 0.2 percent in December. Economists had expected prices to increase by 0.3 percent.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices rose by 0.4 percent in January following a 0.1 percent uptick in December. Core prices had been expected to climb by 0.2 percent.

Compared to the same month a year ago, producer prices were up by 1.6 percent in January, unchanged from December. The annual rate of growth in core producer prices slowed to 1.2 percent from 1.6 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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