Consumer Prices Rise Only Slightly

    February 23, 2005

Consumer prices rose slightly last month at 0.1% and energy prices went down for the second month in a row.

Inflation fears have calmed down a little bit on this news.

Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the Consumer Price Index, a widely used inflation gauge, rose 0.2 percent for a fourth straight month in January, the Labor Department said.

Wall Street economists had expected a 0.2 percent rise in the CPI, both overall and excluding food and energy, but traders had braced for the possibility of larger gains after a report on Friday showed a big pickup in core producer prices.”

“Until you really start seeing capacity tighten up, pricing pressures will remain moderate,” said John Shin, an economist at Lehman Brothers Inc. in New York. “For now, inflation is increasing moderately along with the recovery.”

Energy costs decreased 1.1%, including fuel oil prices down 5.2%, natural gas down 3% and gasoline down 2.1%.

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