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U.S. Consumer Prices Rise for First Time Since October

Wall Street Journal (03/24/15) Josh Mitchell; Jeffrey Sparshott

The consumer-price index increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in February from January, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, marking the first increase since October and the biggest since June. However, underlying inflation remains weak amid tepid economic growth. Excluding the energy and food components, core prices rose 0.2%. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.2% increase in overall prices and a 0.1% increase in core prices.

Over the past year, overall prices remained flat and core prices have risen 1.7%. Overall prices had weakened since last summer, primarily because of a decline in oil prices that has since eased.

Low inflation is weighing on the U.S. Federal Reserve as it contemplates raising short-term interest rates. The Fed says it will raise rates when the labor market improves further, and when inflation begins to move toward a 2.0% target. Many analysts believe the Fed will increase interest rates later this year.