U.S. Inflation Picks Up in January

Consumer price index rose 0.2% from December, with annual inflation rate well above Fed's benchmark.

The cost of living in the United States edged up slightly in January, in part boosted by rising gasoline and fuel prices, official data showed Friday.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index rose 0.2% from December, when prices were flat.

Americans paid 0.9% more at the pump in January, while fuel oil prices jumped 1.4%.

Excluding food and energy prices, core CPI also was up 0.2% in January, double the increase in December, helped by a 0.9% uptick in clothing prices.

Most analysts expected overall consumer prices would rise a stronger 0.3%, while the consensus estimate for core CPI was 0.1%.

Annual inflation, which the Federal Reserve monitors in setting monetary policy, rose 2.9% over the past 12 months.

Though the annual rate of inflation is well above the Fed's 2% benchmark, the central bank says that is a transitory trend due to higher energy and food prices.

It has forecast inflation at or below 2% for the next three years amid a fragile recovery from recession.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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