Consumer prices rose slightly in October, but conditions are likely still too weak for the Federal Reserve to finally start raising interest rates, economists say.
The consumer-price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in October, after two months of declines, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Excluding the food and energy categories, so-called core prices grew 0.2%, the same as in September.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected both overall prices and core prices to rise 0.2%.
Increases in the price index for a variety of services ranging from medical care to lodging to airline fares drove up core inflation, offsetting declining prices for goods like apparel, the WSJ said.
“Falling goods prices, depressed by the strong dollar, are unlikely to be powerful enough to hold down overall core inflation if the services components — three quarters of the core CPI, including rents — are accelerating,” Pantheon Macroeconomics’ chief economist Ian Shepherdson wrote in a note to clients.
Still, the Fed may still hold off raising interest rates next month.
From a year earlier, overall prices rose just 0.2%, largely held down by a 17.1% year-over-year decline in energy prices.
Shelter prices rose 0.3% from September, bringing the year-over-year increase to 3.2%.
Medical costs rose once again from September. The price index for medical care services rose 0.8% in October, pushing the year-over-year rise to 3%.
Energy prices rose 0.3% in October, led by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% rise in gasoline costs. Over the year, gasoline has fallen 27.8%.
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Real average hourly earnings rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in October, and are up 2.4% from October 2014.