America

Consumer Prices Rose 0.4 Percent Last Month; Factory Output Up 0.3 Percent

Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in February from January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported. The increase — the largest in the past 10 months — was mostly fueled by higher prices for gasoline.

Excluding the food and energy sectors, prices rose 0.1 percent. That's a sign that the so-called core rate of inflation remains in check.

According to BLS:

— Gas prices spiked 6 percent last month and were up 12.6 percent from February 2011.

— Food costs were unchanged in February from January, but were up 3.9 percent from a year earlier.

Update at 9:20 a.m. ET. Factories Boost Production:

While there was no overall change in industrial production last month because of a 1.2 percent drop in output at mines, there was a 0.3 percent increase in the factory sector alone, the Federal Reserve just reported.

According to the Fed, manufacturing output was up 5.1 percent from a year earlier. And it revised up its estimate of the increase in January — to 1.1 percent, vs. the earlier estimate of a 0.7 percent gain.

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