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U.S. consumer prices rebound in April

Core index up 0.1%, softer than expected U.S. consumer prices rebounded in April, bolstering the Federal Reserve’s case for continued interest rate hikes. The consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in April because of higher energy costs, the Labor Department said Friday. This followed a 0.3% drop in the prior month. Energy prices jumped 1.1% in April – the biggest increase since January- and were up 9.3% over the past year. Food prices rose 0.2% in April on higher prices for fresh vegetables compared to a 0.3% increase in March. The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose a slight 0.1%, reversing a 0.1% decline in March. The rise in the core was tamer than expected. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected the overall CPI to rise 0.2% and core rate to increase by 0.2%. Consumer prices have risen an unadjusted 2.2% over the past 12 months, down from a 2.4% gain in March and a 2.7% rate in February, which was the highest since February 2012. Because of this moderation, Fed officials believe they can continue to raise interest rates gradually. The market has priced in a rate hike at the next meeting in mid-June. This would be the third hike in the past seven months. Core prices were up 1.9% on a year on year basis. New care prices were down for the third straight month in April. The cost of rent rose 3.8% over the past year, fueling inflation pressure. Real or inflation-adjusted hourly wages, meanwhile, climbed 0.1% in April to $10.73. Real wages have risen 0.4% over the past 12 months.

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