The May consumer price index was up 0.6%, while the core rate climbed 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to figures released Friday by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Year-over-year CPI gained 4.2%, while the core was 2.3% higher than 12 months ago, BLS said. The May figures follow an increase of 0.2% in CPI in April and 0.1% in the core. Economists polled by IFR Markets expected CPI to rise 0.5%, the core to gain 0.2%, and the year-over-year CPI rate to be up 3.9%, with the core up 2.3%. The index for energy, which was virtually unchanged in April, increased 4.4% in May, its biggest increase since November. The index for petroleum-based energy advanced 5.8% and the index for energy services rose 2.3%, according to BLS. The food index rose 0.3% in May. The index for food at home, which advanced 1.5% in April, also increased 0.3%, as five of the six major grocery-store food groups registered substantial deceleration. Upturns in the indexes for lodging away from home, for public transportation, and for household furnishings and operations more than offset a downturn in the index for apparel. During the first five months of 2008, the CPI-U rose at a 4.0% seasonally adjusted annual rate. This compares with an increase of 4.1% for all of 2007, the BLS reported. The index for energy advanced at a 16.5% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first five months of 2008 after advancing 17.4% in all of 2007. Petroleum-based energy costs increased at a 13.9% annual rate and charges for energy services rose at a 20.3% annual rate. The food index has increased at a 6.3% SAAR thus far this year, following a 4.9% rise for all of 2007. Excluding food and energy, the CPI-U advanced at a 2.0% SAAR in the first five months, following a 2.4% rise for all of 2007. Seasonal factors, which have muted some heavily weighted categories — including gasoline and airfares — in the overall headline number are turning adverse for the rest of the year, a senior Bureau of Labor Statistics analyst said Friday.

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