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U.S. Consumer Prices Jump Amid Spike In Gasoline Prices

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Reflecting a spike in gasoline prices, the Labor Department released a report on Tuesday showing U.S. consumer prices jumped in the month of March.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index surged by 1.2 percent in March after climbing by 0.8 percent in February. The sharp increase in consumer prices matched economist estimates.

The jump in consumer prices came as gasoline prices skyrocketed by 18.3 percent, accounting for over half of the monthly increase. Food prices also shot up by 1.0 percent.

Meanwhile, the report showed core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, edged up by 0.3 percent in March after rising by 0.5 percent in February. Economists had expected another 0.5 percent increase.

The uptick in core prices reflected an increase in prices for shelter along with higher prices for airline fares, household furnishings and operations, medical care, and motor vehicle insurance.

The annual rate of consumer price growth accelerated to 8.5 percent in March from 7.9 percent in February, showing the fastest growth since December 1981.

Core consumer prices were up 6.5 percent year-over-year in March, reflecting an uptick from the 6.4 percent jump in February. The annual growth represents the biggest increase since August 1982.

“The surge in energy prices helped drive headline CPI inflation up to a new 40-year high of 8.5% in March but, with base effects set to become much more favorable and signs that monthly gains in core prices are moderating, we expect that to mark the peak,” said Andrew Hunter, Senior US Economist At Capital Economics.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release a separate report on producer price inflation in the month of March. The producer price index is expected to jump by 1.1 percent.

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