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U.S. Consumer Prices Rise 0.2% In December, Less Than Expected

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Consumer prices in the U.S. increased by slightly less than anticipated in the month of December, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Tuesday.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index rose by 0.2 percent in December after climbing by 0.3 percent in November. Economists had been expecting another 0.3 percent increase.

The increase in consumer prices was partly due to a jump in energy prices, which surged up by 1.4 percent in December amid a 2.8 percent jump in gasoline prices.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices inched up by 0.1 percent in December after rising by 0.2 percent in November. Core prices had been expected to rise by another 0.2 percent.

The uptick on core prices reflected higher prices for shelter and medical care as well as increases by prices for apparel, motor vehicle insurance, recreation, and new vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said prices for used cars and trucks, household furnishings and operations, and airline fares were among those to decline.

"The more muted 0.1% rise in core consumer prices in December provides further evidence that underlying price pressures are subdued," said Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

He added, "With wage growth also moderating in recent months, there will be little pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates as economic growth gradually accelerates later this year."

The report also said the annual rate of consumer price growth accelerated to 2.3 percent in December from 2.1 percent in November, reaching the fastest rate of growth since October of 2018.

The annual rate of growth in core consumer prices was 2.3 percent in December, unchanged from the two previous months.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release a separate report on producer prices in the month of December.

Producer prices are expected to rise by 0.2 percent in December after coming in unchanged in November, while core prices are expected to increase by 0.2 percent after dipping by 0.2 percent in the previous month.

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