Consumer Prices Rise for Second Straight Month

(CN) – Consumer prices rose for the second straight month in September, reflecting rising gasoline costs following hurricanes striking the southern U.S., the Labor Department said Friday.

The consumer-price index, measuring what Americans pay for all manner of goods, advanced 0.5 percent in September from a month earlier, the department said.

It was the largest monthly gain since January, and pushed up the year-on-year gain in the CPI to 2.2 percent from 1.9 percent in August.

Fuel prices jumped 13.1 percent in September, and government economists said that surge accounted for about 75 percent of the rise in the CPI.

The increase in gasoline prices was the largest since June 2009 and followed a 6.3 percent rise in August.

The Labor Department said Hurricane Harvey impacted refinery capacity in the Gulf Coast and was likely a factor in last month’s increase in gasoline prices.

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, consumer prices gained 0.1 percent in September as the increase in rental accommodation slowed and the cost of new motor vehicles and medical care declined.

In a separate report on Friday, the Commerce Department said retail sales jumped 1.6 percent in September likely due to the demand for building materials and motor vehicles in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

September’s  increase in retail sales was the largest since March 2015.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month after being unchanged in August.

The economy grew at a 3.1 percent annualized rate in the April-June period, the government said.

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