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December's inflation rate up 0.1%; core CPI up 0.1% as well

January 15, 2010 | “MarketWatch"

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Inflation at the consumer level remained tame in December, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The consumer price index increased 0.1% in December, down from a 0.4% advance in November. This is the lowest rate since July and is slightly below expectations of a 0.2% rise.

The core CPI -- excluding food and energy costs - also rose 0.1%, a tick more than the unchanged reading in November but in line with expectations of economists surveyed by MarketWatch.

The CPI rose 2.7% in 2009, after rising 0.1% in 2008.

The core CPI rose 1.8% in 2009, the same rate as the prior year.

Breaking down the December data:

Energy prices rose 0.2% in December, slowing from the 4.1% advance in November.

Gasoline prices increased 0.2%, while natural-gas prices fell 0.7%

Food prices increased 0.2%, a tick higher than the 0.1% gain seen in November.

In the core sector, the increase was sparked by a sharp 2.5% gain in used-car prices.

Housing prices were flat in December and were down 0.3% for the year, a record low.

Medical-care costs rose 0.2% after a 0.4% rise in November. Drug prices decreased 0.1% in December.

Apparel prices rose 0.4% in December after a decrease of 0.3% in November.

Transportation prices rose 0.3% after a 0.6% gain in November on lower fuel costs.

New-car prices decreased 0.3% but were up 4.9% in the past year.

Airfares rose 2.4% in the month.

By Greg Robb, MarketWatch


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