WASHINGTON -- Fueled by the rising cost of gasoline, consumer prices jumped 0.7% in February for the biggest increase in more than three years, the Labor Department said Friday.
The sharp rise in consumer costs last month, which exceeded analyst expectations, could stoke inflation concerns as economic growth strengthens.
Prices now have risen 2% over the past year, the target the Federal Reserve has set for an acceptable inflation rate. Prices were up 1.6% in the previous 12-month period.
If prices were to start rising faster, the Fed would have to consider pulling back on its stimulus efforts out of concern that they were helping trigger higher costs.
Gas prices were the main culprit in February's jump. Prices at the pump were up a seasonally adjusted 9.1%, the most since June 2009.