Reporting from Washington — Prices paid by U.S. consumers for food, energy and other goods and services jumped in February for the third straight month, adding to inflation fears.
The Labor Department reported that its inflation index increased 0.5% in February, driven by higher energy costs caused by the turmoil in the Middle East.
Food prices also continued to move upward, with sharp increases in the costs of fresh vegetables and meats causing a 0.8% jump in the food index, the largest since July 2008.
The rise in overall inflation, following increases of 0.4% in December and January, means that consumer prices have gone up 2.1% over the last 12 months that ended in February. The 12-month inflation rate was just 1.1% in November.