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Food Prices Help Push CPI Up 0.1%

By Justin Loiseau - Mar 18, 2014 at 12:56PM

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Gasoline prices down 1.7% for February.

The Consumer Price Index increased a seasonally adjusted 0.1% for February, according to a Labor Department report (link opens as PDF) released today. 

After edging up an identical 0.1% for January, analysts' expectations for February proved spot-on. 

Source: Labor Department. 

According to the report, the index's increase was largely due to an uptick in food prices, which increased 0.4%, the most in nearly 2½ years. Beef prices jumped 4% in February, the most in more than 10 years, as recent droughts have pushed up cattle feed prices. Milk, cheese and other dairy prices also rose.

Energy prices decreased 0.5%, pulled down by gasoline (-1.7%), and energy commodities (-1.3%). Piped utility gas services increased a sharp 3.6% on top of January's equally large jump.

Excluding more volatile food and energy prices, overall prices still clocked in a 0.1% gain, equal to analyst expectations. 

Over the last 12 months, the CPI has headed 1.1% higher, fueled primarily by rising food prices (+1.4%). Since February 2013, energy prices have dropped 2.5%. Gas guzzlers can celebrate an 8.1% drop in gasoline, followed close behind by a 6.8% discount on energy commodities prices.

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

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