Inflation is running well below expectations.
U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in January, the third consecutive month of flat prices. Compared with a year ago, the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index rose just 1.6 percent.
That represents a slowdown in price increases from December, when consumer prices were up 1.9 percent compared with the prior year.
The Department of Labor said lower gasoline prices offset the rising costs of housing, clothing and medical care.
So-called “core CPI,” which excludes often-volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.2 percent. Compared with last January, core CPI rose 2.2 percent. That matches the annual gains seen over the past three months, suggesting that price increases are not accelerating.
The very low inflation likely means the Federal Reserve can remain patient when it comes to raising interest rates. It indicates that tariffs, wage gains, and very low unemployment have not driven prices up.
Economists polled by Econoday had forecast the CPI moving up 0.1 percent in January and the core CPI climbing 0.2 percent.
The Fed says it targets another measure of inflation, the core personal consumption expenditures price index. This index has also shown very mild price increases recently.