The U.S. Labor Department this morning reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February rose 0.7%, led by a 9.1% spike in gasoline prices. CPI is up 2% over the past 12 months.
The spike in gasoline prices boosted the overall energy index, which includes natural gas and electricity prices, by 5.4%. Food costs rose 0.1% in February on a sharp rise in the costs of fruits and vegetables.
Excluding food and energy, core CPI rose 0.2% in February and the 12-month rise in core CPI also totaled 2%.
The consensus estimates called for a rise of 0.5% in CPI and a rise of 0.2% in core CPI.
Hourly earnings fell by 0.6% as the average increase in earnings rose just 0.2%, far short of the overall 0.7% rise in the index.
Gasoline prices have moderated in March, which is likely to lead to a reversal of at least some of the rise in energy prices. Natural gas prices have risen this month, but probably not by enough to affect seriously the overall index.
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Economy, Index, Research