Consumer prices in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of February, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Wednesday.
The Labor Department said its consumer price index climbed by 0.4 percent in February after rising by 0.3 percent in January. The increase in prices matched expectations.
Gasoline prices led the way higher once again, surging up by 6.4 percent in February following a 7.4 percent spike in January.
Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices inched up by 0.1 percent in February after coming in unchanged for two straight months. Economists had expected core prices to rise by 0.2 percent.
The uptick in core prices came as higher prices for shelter, recreation, medical care, and motor vehicle insurance were partly offset by lower prices for airline fares, used cars and trucks, and apparel.
On an annual basis, consumer price growth accelerated to 1.7 percent in February from 1.4 percent in January but core price growth slowed to 1.3 percent from 1.4 percent.
“The continued weakness of core prices is hard to square with the recent recovery in demand, as plummeting virus cases have allowed most states to begin easing restrictions,” said Andrew Hunter, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.
He added, “But with the high-frequency data showing that restaurant dining and air travel are now rebounding rapidly, it’s surely only a matter of time before prices in those most-affected services sectors start to pick up.”
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release a separate report on producer price inflation in the month of February.
Producer prices are expected to increase by 0.5 percent in February after spiking by 1.3 percent in January. Core prices are expected to rise by 0.3 percent after jumping by 1.2 percent.