U.S. consumer prices rose slightly in August as energy costs fell, the government reported Tuesday in the latest sign that slow economic growth is keeping inflation tame.
The Labor Department said its consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.1 percent last month after a 0.2 percent advance in July. Gasoline prices fell 0.1 percent, the first decline since April. Food prices increased 0.1 percent.
Excluding volatile energy and food costs, core CPI also rose 0.1 percent after increasing by 0.2 percent in each of the past three months. Higher rents and healthcare costs accounted for most of the increase.
Over the past 12 months, the increase in overall CPI slowed to 1.5 percent in August after a 2.0 percent gain in July. Core CPI rose 1.8 percent over the past 12 months in August, the biggest year-over-year increase since March.
The steady rise in the 12-month core CPI could ease concerns among some Federal Reserve (Fed) officials about the possibility of deflation, a spiral of falling prices that is very difficult for central banks to defuse.
The inflation report was released as Fed policymakers began a two-day meeting Tuesday to deliberate on monetary policy. Economists generally expect the U.S. central bank to announce a reduction in the $85 billion in bonds it has been purchasing each month to hold interest rates down.