WASHINGTON — Consumer prices rose 0.6% in August, as expected, while core prices rose less than expected with a modest 0.1% increase, data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed.
A surge in energy prices was the key factor in the overall increase, as food prices rose only modestly.
Energy prices jumped 5.6% in August following declines in the previous four months. Gasoline prices posted a 9.0% jump after a 0.3% rise in July, while electricity prices up 0.2% in the month. Utility gas prices rose 2.8%. Excluding only energy prices, the CPI would have been up only 0.1%, the same growth rate as in July.
Food prices rose 0.2% in the month, compared with the 0.9% jump in the PPI food index released Thursday. For CPI, the food component was led by a 0.3% rise in the food away from home category. The slightly larger food at home category rose only 0.1%, led by large price gains for meat and poultry and fruits and vegetables.
The largest core category, shelter, saw prices rise 0.2%. Owners' equivalent rents rose 0.3%, the strongest increase since November 2008, while rents of primary residences rose 0.2%. These offset a 0.6% drop in the price of lodging away from home.
New vehicle prices rose 0.2% in August following a 0.1% decline in the previous month. However, prices of used vehicles fell 0.9%, continuing a downward trend that has resulted in a 0.6% 12-month decline.
Medical care services prices rose 0.2% on higher physician's services prices that offset falling prices for hospital services.
Gains in the housing, vehicle, and medical care categories were offset by a 0.5% decline in apparel prices, with both men's and women's apparel prices down.
In addition, there were also price declines for airfares and for household furnishings.
The overall CPI now stands up 1.7% from August 2011, a larger gain than the 1.4% year/year rate in July. At the same time, the core CPI was up 1.9% from a year ago, a slowdown from the 2.1% 12-month rate in July.
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