U.S. consumer prices rose in February for the first time in fourth months, as gas prices rebounded and the cost of food and shelter increased again. The consumer price index climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.2%, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That matched the MarketWatch forecast of economists. Despite the increase in February, consumer prices are unchanged in the past 12 months, the byproduct of a plunge in oil prices in the second half of 2014. The annualized rate had turned negative in January for the first time since 2009. Energy prices increased 1% in February to mark the first gain since last June. Food prices rose 0.2%. Excluding food and energy, so-called core consumer prices also increased 0.2% in February. Core prices are up 1.7% in the past year - close to the Federal Reserve's 2% inflation target - mostly because of higher costs of shelter, new cars and medical care. Real hourly wages, meanwhile, fell by 0.1% in February, the first drop in five months. Real wages have climbed a modest 2.1% in the past year.
Copyright © 2015 MarketWatch, Inc.
Continue Reading Below