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Minor Increase Expected in March Prices

April 13, 1999

The Labor Department today will release its consumer price index for March. A gauge of prices Americans pay for goods and services, the CPI is expected to have increased 0.3% in the last month, nudged up by rising oil prices, analysts said.

"Given the recent hike in crude oil prices, we have probably seen the last of the extraordinary low inflation reports," Don Hilber, an economist at Wells Fargo & Co., told Bloomberg News.

Still, outside of the oil industry, consumer prices probably changed little from February, when the CPI rose 0.1%.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department is expected to report today that U.S. retail sales registered a robust increase in March as low prices and rising incomes helped spur chain-store sales. The report is expected to mirror industry statistics released last week that showed an increase of more than 8% in same-store sales at retail stores last month.

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