U.S. Consumer Prices Increase 0.6% In August, Annual Growth Accelerates To 3.7%

Consumer prices in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of August, according to a highly anticipated report released by the Labor Department on Wednesday.

The report said the consumer price index climbed by 0.6 percent in August after inching up by 0.2 percent in July. The price growth matched expectations.

The increase in consumer prices was largely due to a spike in gasoline prices, which skyrocketed by 10.6 percent, accounting for over half of the advance by the headline index.

The surge in gasoline prices contributed to a 5.6 percent jump in energy prices, while food prices crept up by 0.2 percent during the month.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices rose by 0.3 percent in August after edging up by 0.2 percent in July. Economists had expected another 0.2 percent uptick.

The slightly bigger than expected increase in core prices reflected higher prices for rent, owners’ equivalent rent, motor vehicle insurance, medical care, and personal care.

Lower prices for lodging away from home, used cars and trucks, and recreation helped limit the upside for core prices.

“The good news is that the core inflation surprise was only 0.1% and it’s still very likely that the Fed stays on hold for this month,” said Chris Zaccarelli, Chief Investment Officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.

He added, “Unfortunately, an increase in inflation – especially one that is unexpected – leaves the door open for the Fed to raise rates again before the end of the year.”

The Labor Department also said the annual rate of consumer price growth accelerated to 3.7 percent in August from 3.2 percent in July. The annual rate of growth was expected to accelerate to 3.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said the annual rate of growth by core consumer prices slowed to 4.3 percent in August from 4.7 percent in July, in line with economist estimates.

The Labor Department is scheduled to release a separate report on producer price inflation in the month of August on Thursday.

Producer prices are expected to climb by 0.4 percent in August after rising by 0.3 percent in July, while the annual rate of producer price growth is expected to accelerate to 1.2 percent from 0.8 percent.

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