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US consumer prices maintain gains on rising housing, healthcare costs
[WASHINGTON] US consumer prices increased for a fourth straight month in June as Americans paid more for housing, gasoline and healthcare, pointing to steadily rising inflation pressures.
The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index rose 0.2 per cent last month after a similar gain in May. In the 12 months through June, the CPI advanced 1.0 per cent, matching May's increase.
The year-on-year increase is below the 1.7 per cent average annual increase over the last 10 years.
Economists had forecast the CPI gaining 0.3 per cent last month and advancing 1.1 per cent from a year ago.
The so-called core CPI, which strips out food and energy costs, also rose 0.2 per cent in June, rising by the same margin for three consecutive months. That lifted the year-on-year core CPI gain to 2.3 per cent from 2.2 per cent in May.
This increase is higher than the average annual rate of 1.9 per cent over the past 10 years.
The Federal Reserve has a 2 per cent inflation target and tracks an inflation measure which is currently at 1.6 per cent. Concerns about persistently low inflation contributed to the US central bank keeping interest rates unchanged last month.
The Fed raised its benchmark overnight interest rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade.
Last month, gasoline prices increased 3.3 percent after rising 2.3 per cent in May. Food prices fell 0.1 per cent, with the cost of food consumed at home declining 0.3 per cent.
Within the core CPI basket, housing and medical costs continued to march higher.
Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence rose 0.3 per cent after increasing by the same margin in May. Medical care costs increased 0.4 per cent after advancing 0.3 per cent in May.
The cost of hospital services ticked up 0.1 per cent and doctor visits costs increased 0.3 per cent. Prices for prescription medicine jumped 1.3 per cent.
But there was some relief for households. Apparel prices fell 0.4 per cent. The cost of used cars and trucks tumbled 1.1 per cent. Prices for new motor vehicles slipped 0.2 per cent.