Sept. Inflation Up But Matches Forecasts
The main U.S. inflation gauge rose in September at the fastest rate in five months, the Labor Department said Tuesday, but the gain was driven by energy and tobacco prices and the report held few worrisome surprises.
The Consumer Price Index increased 0.4 percent last month, a pickup from August's 0.3 percent rise. The so-called core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.3 percent following a 0.1 gain in the prior month.
The September readings on both the core and the overall CPI exactly matched the forecasts of U.S. economists in a Reuters survey. The overall CPI rise was the biggest since a 0.7 percent gain in April. Energy costs, which have been on the rise since early this year because of output cuts by oil-producing nations, have been nudging the CPI higher, although the core index has remained relatively tame.
Financial markets had been awaiting the CPI figures nervously in the aftermath of a Labor Department report released Friday showing an unexpectedly large 1.1 percent September rise in U.S. producer prices. Although the Producer Price Index, a measure of wholesale inflation, and the CPI do not necessarily move in tandem, investors had been worried that the CPI could show an unexpectedly large gain.
The fear was that a worrisome CPI report could raise the odds that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates for a third time this year.
The latest report showed that energy costs jumped 1.7 percent in September, tobacco prices surged 6.5 percent and food prices edged up 0.2 percent. Apparel costs last month rose a strong 1.2 percent, while the cost of new cars and trucks increased a rather mild 0.2 percent. Air fares tumbled 1.7 percent.