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U.S. Consumer Prices Rise 0.2% In February, In Line With Estimates

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After reporting no change in consumer prices over the past few months, the Labor Department released a report on Tuesday showing a modest increase in U.S. consumer prices in the month of February.

The report said the consumer price index rose by 0.2 percent in February after coming in unchanged for three straight months. The uptick in consumer prices matched economist estimates.

The increase in consumer prices was partly due to a rebound in gasoline prices, which surged up by 1.5 percent in February after plunging by 5.5 percent in January.

The jump in gasoline prices contributed to a 0.4 percent rebound in energy prices, which matched the increase in food prices.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices inched up by 0.1 percent in February after rising by 0.2 percent in January. Economists had expected another 0.2 percent increase in prices.

The uptick in core prices reflected a continued increase in prices for shelter as well as higher prices for personal care, apparel, and education.

Decreases in prices recreation, medical care, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles limited the upside for core prices.

The report also said the annual rate of consume price growth slowed to 1.5 percent in February from 1.6 percent in November, while the annual rate of core consumer price growth edged down to 2.1 percent from 2.2 percent.

With consumer price growth slowing, Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said, "The Fed would appear to be justified in supporting the real economy by being patient and leaving interest rates on hold for a potentially extended period."

On Wednesday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release a separate report on producer price inflation in the month of February.

Producer prices are expected to rise by 0.2 percent in February after climbing by 0.3 percent in January, while core producer prices are expected to tick up by 0.2 percent after slipping by 0.1 percent.

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