US consumer inflation up 0.4 pct due to surging gasoline prices

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ISTANBUL
Published 13.12.2017 17:04

Mounting gasoline prices helped drive U.S. consumer inflation higher in November, pushing the annual measure above the U.S. central bank's target, according to a government report Wednesday.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that prices at the pump increased a sharp 7.3 percent after falling in October. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core consumer inflation rose a modest 0.1 percent in November.

The 12-month measure rose 2.2 percent, moving above the Fed's two percent target to the same level recorded in September, and core inflation is up 1.7 percent.

Inflation pressures have remained subdued even though the U.S. economy is gathering momentum. Economic growth has clocked in at an annual pace of 3 percent or better in each of the last two quarters for the first time since 2014. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low 4.1 percent. But the tight job market has yet to generate significant wage growth, which would push inflation higher. Many businesses still fear losing customers if they raise prices.

Even though hiring has risen steadily, wage gains have been modest.

The Consumer Price Index, which tracks costs for household goods and services, gained 0.4 percent from October, matching analyst expectations.

The news comes as the Federal Reserve is poised to raise interest rates later on Wednesday, the third rate hike of the year, and gives ammunition to those worried about the dangers of inflation.

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