Consumer prices jump 0.4 percent in November

November's rise in consumer prices marks the first year-over-year increase in the consumer price index since February.

Ross D. Franklin/AP
Jenny St. John (left) and Mischa Semanitzky shop at the Kidstop store for gifts in Scottsdale, Ariz. Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent last month because of high energy costs.

The US economy escaped year-over-year deflation in November for the first time in nine months.

The consumer price index (CPI) climbed 0.4 percent from a month earlier and 1.8 percent above the level from a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. The latter rise marked the first year-over-year increase in consumer prices since February.

The CPI measures the average price of goods and services purchased by a household.

Last month's rise in the CPI was caused by a 4.1 increase in energy prices, with gasoline rising 6.4 percent from October's level and fuel oil jumping 9.0 percent.

Food prices, by contrast, climbed only 0.1 percent from October's level.

Absent those two volatile sectors, the so-called core inflation rate didn't increase at all from October's level and only 1.7 percent from a year earlier.

"That rate has been broadly stable for the last six months, but a lot has been going on under the surface," writes Paul Ashworth, an economist with Capital Economics, in an analysis. "While core goods inflation has accelerated to 2.6 percent in November, from 1.5 percent in June, core services inflation has slowed over the same period to only 1.4 percent, from 1.8 percent.... If, as we expect, the moderation in the services component continues, then that points to a sharp slowdown in the overall core inflation rate."

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The consumer price index is the leading measure of inflation and deflation. Be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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