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Consumer prices in March outpace previous 2 months
WASHINGTON (4/16/14)--The consumer price index climbed 0.2% in March, outpacing the 0.1% rates posted in January and February and outperforming analyst expectations for the month, based on the numbers released Tuesday by the Labor Department ( Economy.com April 15).

A slower decline in energy prices, in addition to mounting food prices, buoyed the higher rate of headline inflation, Moody's analysts said. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, also rose 0.2%.  

Analysts also have commented that while inflation remains weak, inflation pressure could be building.

"On a three- and six-month basis, prices are creeping higher, which is something to keep an eye on, but with wage growth still modest and lots of retail competition, inflation should remain in check for now," Jennifer Lee, BMO Capital Markets senior economist, told MarketWatch (April 15).

Food and beverage prices increased 0.4% in March, which matched February's strong performance, with meat, dairy, poultry and cereal prices also holding on to strong gains. Overall, food prices rose 1.7% over the past 12 months.

A rebound in farm prices may be fueling the recent uptick in food prices, according to Moody's.

Gasoline prices also have taken off in the past two months, but still sit below prices seen this time last year.

Inflation remains well below the thresholds tied to Federal Reserve policy, likely meaning the Federal Open Market Committee is still a ways away from making any changes to monetary policy in the short-term, Moody's analysts said.


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