US consumer prices tick up in February

US consumer prices rose slightly for the second month in a row in February, led by gains in food prices, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

The consumer price index rose 0.1 percent, matching the January gain. Food prices, rising 0.4 percent, accounted for more than half of the increase.

Energy prices fell 0.5 percent as a drop in gasoline prices outweighed sharp rises in fuel oil and natural gas prices.

Excluding food and energy prices, which tend to be volatile month-over-month, core CPI rose 0.1 percent for the third consecutive month.

Analysts on average had forecast a 0.2 percent rise in CPI.

Compared with a year ago, February consumer prices increased 1.1 percent, slowing from 1.6 percent in January. Core CPI rose 1.6 percent from February 2013.

The latest consumer prices data pointed to continued subdued inflationary pressures as the Federal Reserve opens a two-day monetary policy Tuesday.

The Fed's preferred inflation indicator, the personal consumption expenditures price index, was up 1.2 percent year-on-year in January, well below the central bank's 2.0 percent target for price stability.


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