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Uptick in consumer pricing tied to gas, housing

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By Kevin Lessmiller, Courthouse News

(CN) – U.S. consumer prices jumped 0.3% in April, driven largely by increases in gasoline and housing costs, but inflation pressures have stayed in check.

The consumer price index, which measures what Americans pay for a wide range of products, is up 2% over the last 12 months, a slight increase from the 1.9% annual rate reported in March.

The 12-month increase seen last month is directly in line with the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual inflation target. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said the central bank can be “patient” with raising interest rates this year while inflation pressures remain tame.

April’s 0.3% uptick in prices is a modest decrease from the 0.4% gain reported the month before.

Gas prices spiked 5.7% last month while rent costs went up 0.4%. Food prices dropped 0.1%, the first decrease since June 2017, according to a Labor Department report released Friday.

Prices for used vehicles dipped 1.3% and clothing costs fell 0.8%.

Excluding the always volatile food and energy sectors, consumer prices increased 0.1% for the third straight month and core prices are up 2.1% compared to a year ago.

President Donald Trump celebrated the consumer price report in a tweet Friday morning.

“Great Consumer Price Index just out. Really good, very low inflation! We have a great chance to “really rock!” Good numbers all around,” he wrote.

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