A man receives vision during a free healthcare clinic
Washington - AFP
US consumer prices gained in October with key elements like health care and housing costs pushing higher in a potential sign of inflation picking up, government data showed Tuesday.
The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent month on month, after falling for two straight months.
The CPI was up by the same amount year-on-year, with a one-month rebound in energy and other commodities the main reason for the October gain.
Fuel prices were up for the month following a jump in global crude oil prices, but the decline of the past two weeks suggested that will be only temporary.
Core CPI, stripping out the more volatile fuel and food prices, was up 0.2 percent for the month and 1.9 percent over 12 months, the same as in September.
Costs for average Americans continued to rise fastest in housing -- rents especially -- and in hospital costs and health insurance.
Offsetting them are lower prices for goods like clothing, in part the consequence of the strong dollar effect on imports.
Analysts have been eyeing inflation to see whether it will show enough strength to justify the Federal Reserve embarking on its first increases in interest rates in more than nine years.
While the core CPI figure for the year is close to the Federal Reserve's 2.0 percent target inflation rate, the Fed focuses on another measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, which in September was only up 0.2 percent year-on-year.
But economist Ian Shepherdson said the rises in key CPI components like rents and health care would likely push an increase in the PCE where it has a heavier weighting.
"Overall, this report illustrates clearly that falling good prices, depressed by the strong dollar, are unlikely to be powerful enough to hold down overall core inflation if the services components... are accelerating," he said.