The Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped a seasonally adjusted 0.4% for May, according to a Labor Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.
After increasing 0.3% in April, analysts' 0.2% expectations for May proved too pessimistic. Investors have been keeping an especially watchful eye on the CPI lately, as strong growth means stand-alone inflation -- a signal that the Fed might back off buying bonds to spur inflation.
According to the report, May's increase was a widespread result of price boosts primarily from shelter, electricity, food, airline fares, and gasoline. The overall index hasn't registered a month-to-month gain this large since February 2013, and the food index hit an almost three-year high.
Excluding more volatile food and energy prices, the CPI still managed to beat expectations, clocking in at 0.3% versus 0.2% estimates.
Over the last 12 months, the CPI has headed 2.1% higher, with price gains from both food (+2.5%) and energy (+3.3%).
Despite May's strong CPI growth, a single month of better-than-expected inflation won't be enough to spur any unusual Federal Reserve action. Investors and analysts will need to wait for at least another month of data before jumping to conclusions about whether the Fed will step up its tapering tactic.