US consumer prices rose 0.4% in December

Gasoline prices rose 8.4% over the month, accounting for more than 60% of the overall increase in prices

U.S. consumer prices ticked higher at the end of 2020, as Americans contended with higher gasoline and food costs along with a rise in coronavirus cases across the country.

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The consumer-price index -- which measures what consumers pay for everyday items including food, clothing and recreational activities -- increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in December compared with November, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

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Gasoline prices rose 8.4% over the month, accounting for more than 60% of the overall increase in prices, according to the Labor Department.

In the year ended December, prices were up 1.4%, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, capping a year that saw muted inflation amid an economic downturn caused by the pandemic. The increase was the smallest yearly rise since 2015, the Labor Department said.

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Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal were expecting a 0.4% rise in consumer prices over the month and a 1.3% increase over the year.

Excluding the often-volatile categories of food and energy, so-called core prices were up 0.1% in December versus November and rose 1.6% from the year prior, matching economists' expectations.

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The overall index on a monthly basis has risen in six of the last seven months. While gains slowed in the fall and into the winter, prices continued a rebound from early on in the pandemic when they fell as much as 0.8%.