Gasoline Fuels Biggest Jump in Consumer Prices in 10 months

The consumer-price index, which measures the cost of living for Americans, jumped the most in 10 months in February, propelled mostly by gasoline.
The index increased 0.4 percent, matching forecasts of economists. The index had climbed 0.2 percent the prior month, the Labor Department reported today.
The core measure, which excludes food and energy costs, was up 0.1 percent, less than projected.
The gasoline index rose sharply in February, accounting for more than 80 percent of the change in the “all items” index, said the Labor Department.
That is the biggest jump in the gasoline index in more than a year.
Meanwhile, President Obama has gone on the offensive on the issue of gas prices, attacking Republican opponents for “talking down new sources of energy.” Obama yesterday argued that the U.S. is producing more oil than at any time in the past eight years and has quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs.
Republican presidential candidates have ratcheted up criticism of Obama’s energy policy.
GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney said Obama has delayed drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska’s national wildlife refuge. He also criticized the president for not moving forward with the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
The national average price of gasoline was $3.81 per gallon on Wednesday, 50 cents higher than one month ago.
In its report today, the Labor Department said price indices for shelter, new vehicles, medical care, and household furnishings and operations all advanced, while those for apparel, recreation, used cars and trucks, and tobacco all declined.
The “all items” index has risen 2.9 percent over the last 12 months,  the same figure as last month.
The “core measure” – less food and energy – was up 2.2 percent, a slight decline from last month’s 2.3 percent figure.
The 12-month change in the food index fell to  3.9 percent in February, its lowest level since last June.
In contrast, the 12-month change in the energy index was 7 percent in February compared to 6.1 percent in January.

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