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Gas prices push CPI up 0.6%

As in August, higher gas costs were the main contributor to inflation in September. Prices at the pump were up 7% last month. Core prices rise just 0.1%.

October 17, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — For the second straight month, a sharp rise in gasoline prices helped push up prices for consumer goods, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

The Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, increased a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in September from the previous month. Prices also were up 0.6% in August. Before that, inflation had been flat or down for four consecutive months.

Higher gasoline costs were again the main culprit in September. Prices at the pump, which have set records recently in California, were up 7% last month, following a 9% increase in August.

Core inflation, which omits volatile fuel and food prices, was up just 0.1% for the third straight month, the Labor Department said. Despite the effects of the Midwestern drought, food prices were little changed in September, up 0.1% as well.

At the supermarket, prices for an index of meats, poultry, fish and eggs fell 0.6% after rising in each of the three previous months. But prices for nonalcoholic beverages were up 0.9%, and dairy prices also rose.

Over the last year, broader prices and core prices have risen 2%. The Federal Reserve has a goal of keeping inflation no higher than 2% to ensure stability.

September's inflation figures were in line with expectations, said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist for Mizuho Securities USA.

He noted that inflation growth aside from energy was moderate but that "energy prices are leading the index higher with a 6.8% year-over-year gain in gasoline."

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