U.S. consumer prices rise 0.1 pct in March

WASHINGTON, April 14 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. consumer prices rose
0.1 percent in March, a government report showed on Wednesday,
matching economists’ expectations for a tame reading and giving
the Federal Reserve leeway to maintain ultra-low interest
rates.

The Labor Department said the rising cost of fresh fruits
and vegetables was the primary cause of the increase in the
seasonally adjusted index. The index for food at home rose 0.5
percent, the largest gain since September 2008.

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, core CPI was
unchanged in March after rising 0.1 percent in February.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.1 percent rise in
core CPI.

The energy index was unchanged, even though oil prices have
been rising. Economists have been keeping a wary eye on energy
prices for any sign that they could trigger a broader jump in
inflation or compress consumer spending.

The Federal Reserve has pledged to keep its benchmark
interest rate unusually low for an extended period as high
unemployment slows the recovery from the worst recession since
the Great Depression. The central bank has said a spike in
inflation could change its mind, but Wednesday’s CPI report
showed price pressures remain subdued.

Over the last 12 months, CPI has increased 2.3 percent,
before seasonal adjustment. Excluding food and energy, the core
has risen just 1.1 percent over that period, the smallest
increase since January 2004.
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(Reporting by Emily Kaiser, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

U.S. consumer prices rise 0.1 pct in March