By John S. McClenahen If the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) was looking for a reason to raise the influential federal funds target rate at its scheduled Dec. 14 meeting, it got that reason on Nov. 17. On Wednesday, the U.S. Labor Department announced its Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in October, two-tenths of a percentage point more than the 0.4% that economists generally expected. The core-CPI, which strips out changes in energy and food costs, rose 0.2%, twice the rate expected. The CPI report followed by a day the department's news that the October Producer Price Index (PPI), also fueled by rising energy and food costs, had posted the highest monthly gain in more than a decade. "The message is that inflation is creeping higher, despite the Fed's hopes that a weaker [U.S.] dollar and stronger energy prices would not filter into the core," says UBS Securities LLC. "This increase strengthens the case for a December tightening [by the FOMC] to 2.25%."