WASHINGTON — A slowdown in energy prices partially offset sharply higher food costs to produce a 0.3% increase in consumer prices in May, the smallest increase this year, the government reported today.
The increase in the Labor Department's consumer price index, equivalent to an annual rate of inflation of 4%, followed increases of 0.4% in each of the preceding three months.
So far this year, inflation has been running at an annual rate of 5.6%.
Food prices led the May price increases, up 0.6% after a 0.3% rise in April. Grocery store prices registered their biggest increase since last August, 0.9%, mainly due to a 3.1% increase in the price of beef, which offset a 0.3% decline in poultry prices.
Gasoline prices, still rebounding from last year's fall in world energy prices, were 0.4% higher at the pump in May, following a 0.7% rise in April. The gasoline price increase was the smallest so far this year.