Inflation up 0.3% for December

The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, increased a seasonally adjusted 0.3% for December, according to a Labor Department report (link opens as PDF) released today. 

After the index made no movement in November, analyst expectations for 0.3% growth last month proved spot-on. 

Source: Labor Department. 

According to the report, the index's increase was primarily a result of upticks in energy and shelter prices. A 3.1% jump in gasoline prices helped push overall energy up 2.1%, while the shelter index added 0.2%. Excluding more volatile food and energy prices, the CPI rose a slightly smaller 0.1%, also in line with expectations. Food prices ticked up 0.1%, pushed up by higher restaurant costs. Grocery prices were flat, held down by the biggest drop in fruit and vegetable prices in five years. 

Over the 12 months ending in December, the CPI headed 1.5% higher, fueled primarily by a 3.2% rise in electricity prices, a 2.5% increase in shelter, and a 2.5% increase in medical care costs. 

Investors keep a close watch on the Consumer Price Index, since inflation rates can impact the Federal Reserve's interest rate setting. Low inflation means lower interest rates, and this latest CPI report keeps numbers in line with minimal rate expectations. 

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. link


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