U.S. consumer prices rose marginally in September but too slow for the Federal Reserve to decide not to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future. The Labor Department said on Wednesday its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month as a rise in food and shelter costs offset a broad decline in energy prices.
The CPI had dropped 0.2 percent in August and economists had expected a flat reading in September, while U.S. Treasury debt prices predictably fell on the reading. The dollar rose modestly.
In the 12 months through September, the CPI increased 1.7 percent after a similar rise in August. A separate index that tracks price changes for urban wage earners and clerical workers, which is used to make cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security payments, rose 1.7 percent in the third quarter from the year earlier even as wages were stagnant.
Increases in shelter and medical care costs drove the overall index increas, while the so-called core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, ticked up 0.1 percent last month after being unchanged in August. In the 12 months through September, the core CPI rose 1.7 percent after increasing by the same margin in August.
In September, energy prices fell for a third straight month, with gasoline prices falling 1.0 percent. Food prices, however, continued to gain (0.3 percent) after increasing 0.2 percent in August.
The shelter index was up 3.0 percent in the 12 months through September, which is the largest gain since January 2008, but within the core CPI, shelter costs increased 0.3 percent in September after rising 0.2 percent in August.
The medical care index also increased again 0.2 percent, with prices for nonprescription drugs increasing 1.5 percent and hospital services gaining 0.3 percent.