U.S. Consumer Prices Flat in April

Core inflation is stable with no significant change expected through the end of the year, says analyst.

U.S. consumer prices held steady in April as energy prices fell for the first time this year, official data showed Tuesday.

The Labor Department reported its consumer price index (CPI) was unchanged from March, when it rose 0.3%.

Energy prices dropped 1.7% from March, led by a sharp 2.6% decline in gasoline prices, while food prices rose 0.2%.

Excluding energy and food prices, which tend to be more volatile, the core CPI rose 0.2% from March amid increases for housing, autos, airline fares, medical care and apparel.

The inflation numbers matched analyst expectations.

On a 12-month basis, the all-items CPI was up 2.3% from April 2011, the lowest figure since February 2011, the department noted.

Core CPI also increased 2.3%.

"This is the first time since October 2009 that the 12-month all-items change has not exceeded the 12-month change for all items less food and energy," the department said.

The food index has risen 3.1% over the last 12 months, and the energy index has risen 0.9%.

Though annual consumer inflation is above the Federal Reserve's 2% benchmark, the central bank has long insisted that inflationary pressures from higher oil prices were transitory.

"Overall, core inflation is stable, and we expect no significant change through the end of this year at least," said Ian Shepherdson at High Frequency Economics.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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