WASHINGTON – Consumer inflation may have picked up a bit in December because of higher energy prices and weekly jobless claims are expected to remain near their current level of 330,000, according to economists polled by MarketWatch. Both reports wil be issued at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Jobless claims are usually quite volatile from Thanksgiving until the end of January, a period when economists give it less weight. The consumer price index, meanwhile, is projected to rise 0.3% in December, mainly because of an increase in the energy index. The core index that strips out food and energy is seen rising a mild 0.2%.
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