WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer prices rose more than expected in June as gasoline prices jumped, but underlying inflation pressure remain benign against the backdrop of lukewarm domestic demand.
The Labor Department said Tuesday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.5 percent, the largest increase since February, after nudging up 0.1 percent in May. Gasoline prices accounted for about two thirds of the increase in the CPI.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected consumer inflation to increase 0.3 percent last month.
In the 12-months through June, consumer prices advanced 1.8 percent after rising 1.4 percent in May. It was also the largest increase since February.
Stripping out volatile energy and food, consumer prices increased 0.2 percent for a second straight month. That took the increase over the 12 months to June to 1.6 percent, the smallest increase since June 2011. The so-called core CPI had increased 1.7 percent in May.
While both inflation measures remain below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target, details of the report suggested the recent disinflation trend had probably run its course, with medical care costs rising.
There were also increases in the prices for new motor vehicles, apparel and household furnishings. That could keep on track expectations the U.S. central bank will start scaling back its massive monetary stimulus in September.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who last month said the central bank would start cutting back the $85 billion in bonds it is purchasing each month to keep borrowing costs low, has viewed the low inflation as temporary and expects prices to push higher.
Consumer Prices Driven Higher by Jump in Gas Prices