The consumer price index rose 0.4% in August, driven by higher gasoline prices, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

Core prices, which exclude food and energy, rose 0.1% for the month, the second consecutive monthly increase.

Core prices rose 1.4% from July 2008, the smallest annual increase since February 2004. Total consumer prices fell 1.5% from a year ago marking the sixth consecutive month the annual CPI has been negative.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected CPI to increase 0.3% and for core prices to increase 0.1%, according to the median estimate.

Gasoline jumped 9.1% in August and accounted for more than 80% of the overall CPI increase. Gasoline prices are down 30% from last August. All energy prices rose 4.6% in August.

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