consumer price index
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WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer prices rose marginally in February, but the lack of inflation pressures will probably not dissuade the Federal Reserve from dialing back its monetary stimulus.

The Labor Department said Tuesday its consumer price index nudged up 0.1 percent as a decline in gasoline prices offset an increase in the cost of food.

The CPI had ticked up 0.1 percent in January and last month's gain was in line with economists' expectations.

In the 12 months through February, consumer prices increased 1.1 percent, slowing from a 1.6 percent rise in January. The February increase was the smallest rise since October last year.

Stripping out the volatile energy and food components, the so-called core CPI also rose 0.1 percent for a third straight month. In the 12 months through February, core CPI rose 1.6 percent after rising by the same margin in January.

Consumer inflation is running below the Fed's 2 percent target,
which suggests interest rates will probably remain near record low levels even as the U.S. central bank cuts back on the amount of money it is injecting into the economy each month.

With job growth accelerating and industrial production and consumer spending strengthening, economists expect the Fed to announce another $10 billion reduction to its monthly bond purchases when policymakers end a two-day meeting on Wednesday.

Last month, food prices rose 0.4 percent, the largest increase since September 2011. That accounted for more than half of the increase in the CPI last month.

There were big increases in the prices of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruits.

Gasoline prices declined for a second month, helping to offset sharp gains in the price of heating oil and natural gas.

Within the core CPI, a 0.2 percent rise in the cost of shelter was the major contributor for the rise in the index. There were also increases in medical care, recreation and new vehicle prices. Prices for tobacco, used cars and trucks, apparel and household furnishings and operations fell.

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Big John

Have you seen the huge price increases in auto and homeowners insurance? We are in the hidden inflation and it is effecting the middle class in this country. It is hidden because the rich do not want people asking for raises. My homeowners went up 69% and car insurance up 20% with no claims filed. Food and restaurant pricing is going up monthly, notice how many new menus you see which means higher prices.

March 18 2014 at 4:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Bought Gas, Heating Oil, Propane lately? All are up in price.

March 18 2014 at 3:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply