The News Bee

Consumer prices rose modestly in April

Consumer prices rose modestly in April

Consumer prices picked up modestly in April as gasoline costs fell after two months of increases. The consumer price index increased 0.1%, the Labor Department said Friday, in line with economists’ estimates. Over the past year, prices are down 0.2%. Core prices, excluding food and energy, were up 0.3%. Economists expected a 0.2% increase. Core prices are up 1.8% the past year.635603770367342253-AP-CONSUMER-CONFIDENCE-71102356

Gasoline prices fell 1.7% last month. Average regular unleaded gasoline prices, at $2.73 a gallon, are up sharply from about $2 in January but still about 90 cents below the year-ago price. Prices for food at home fell for the second straight month, dipping 0.2%, while overall food costs were unchanged. Medical care costs jumped 0.9%, used car prices, 0.6%, and rent, 0.3%.

Helping offset those increases were a 1.3% decline in airline fares and 0.2% drop in apparel prices. The Federal Reserve is watching inflation closely for signs that it’s accelerating from a sluggish clip caused largely by low gasoline prices and a strong dollar that’s making imports cheap.

The Fed has been hesitant to raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006 until it’s confident that inflation will drift up toward its 2% annual target over the medium-term. Many economists expect the near-normal 5.4% unemployment rate to push up wages in coming months as employers compete for fewer available workers.