March US Consumer Prices Rise 0.2 Percent, But Long-Term Inflation Remains Tame

 @JosephLazzaro on April 15 2014 8:41 AM
Shopping malll Prague by Shutterstock
An indoor shopping mall. Shutterstock.com

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in March, due to higher food and shelter costs, the U.S. Labor Department announced Tuesday.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected inflation to rise 0.1 percent in March.

Further, the core rate, which excludes often-volatile energy and food prices, also rose 0.2 percent in March after edging up 0.1 percent the prior month.

In the 12 months through March, the core CPI advanced 1.7 percent after rising 1.6 percent in February. That's a relatively low rate of inflation for an expanding economy and is also considered to be within the U.S. Federal Reserve's "comfort zone" for inflation.

The Fed targets 2 percent inflation and it tracks an index that is running even lower than the CPI. The rise last month could ease concerns among some policymakers about inflation being too low, Reuters reported.

In March, food prices increased 0.4 percent after rising by the same margin in February. A drought in the West has pushed up prices for meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables.

More price increases could be on the way after food prices at the factory gate posted their biggest gain in 10 months in March. Gasoline prices fell 1.7 percent, declining for a third straight month.

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