U.S. consumer prices jumped by 0.7 percent in February, the largest increase since June 2009, as gasoline prices surged, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists polled by Reuters had called for a 0.5 percent rise.
Gasoline prices soared 9.1 percent last month, accounting for about three-fourths of the increase in consumer inflation. That's their largest increase since June 2009. Food prices rose a much smaller 0.1 percent.
"Aside from the spike in gasoline prices, which is already being reversed, it is hard to find any evidence of major price pressures in February’s U.S. CPI figures," said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
The underlying inflation was fairly muted. Stripping out volatile food and energy costs, the so-called core CPI increased 0.2 percent, in line with estimates.
The overall CPI and the core reading both climbed 2 percent over the last 12 months that ended in February, staying within the Federal Reserve's target for inflation.