Annual U.S. Inflation Rises 2.7%, December Inflation Rate Climbs 0.1%

Consumer prices shifted slightly higher in December but the annual inflation rate jumped due to rising energy costs, the Labor Department reported Friday.

US consumer prices increased modestly at 0.1% last month, which was down from a 0.4% increase in November and marked the lowest reading since July. Most forecasters were expecting a 0.2% increase.

"Consumer pricing pressures remain very subdued," Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, was quoted on Bloomberg. "It gives the Fed further leeway to continue keeping rates where they are well through 2010."

The government’s Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation pressures at the consumer level, rose 2.7% on an annual basis in 2009 — the biggest gain since 2007. By comparison, American’s paid just 0.1% more for goods and services in 2008. The contrasting difference was primarily driven by higher energy prices, with gasoline up 53.5% in 2009 after declining 43.1% in 2008. Continue reading Annual U.S. Inflation Rises 2.7%, December Inflation Rate Climbs 0.1%

US Inflation Rates, Historical Information and Calculator Updates

The cost of living increased in December but prices actually rose less than expected, the latest data from the government reveals.

American consumer prices inched 0.1% higher last month. That drove the inflation rate up 2.7% in 2009 from a year ago, according to the Consumer Price Index, or CPI data provided by the Labor Department on Friday. The CPI is the government’s key inflation barometer.

The modest increase in December, which was 0.1% lower than many forecasts, compares to a 0.4% pickup in November. The aforementioned 2.7% annual inflation rate compares to 0.1% inflation in 2008. Higher gasoline prices account for much of the difference.

"The larger increase was primarily due to the energy index, which rose 18.2 percent during 2009 after falling 21.3 percent in 2008. The energy upturn was caused by the gasoline index, which rose 53.5 percent in 2009 after declining 43.1 percent in 2008," the Labor Department’s report states.

Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the core CPI rose 1.8% in the past 12 months versus the 1.7% rise reported in the prior month. 2009’s increase matched 2008. The core CPI in December was also up 0.1% Continue reading US Inflation Rates, Historical Information and Calculator Updates