(CN) – Consumer prices rose slightly in October as a temporary post-hurricane spike in gasoline prices subsided, but rising health care costs and apartment rents suggest inflation is inching upward, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
The department said its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month after jumping 0.5 percent in September.
That lowered the year-on-year increase in the CPI to 2.0 percent from 2.2 percent in September.
The good news in Wednesday’s report is that gasoline prices fell 2.4 percent after surging 13.1 percent in September due to disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey. The catastrophic storm struck Texas in late August and disrupted production at oil refineries in the Gulf Coast region. The resulting price hike for fuel was the largest gain since June 2009.
Food prices were unchanged after a slight rise of 0.1 percent in September. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in October amid a pickup in the cost of rental accommodation, healthcare costs, tobacco and a range of other goods and services.
Last month, the cost of rental accommodation rose 0.3 percent, matching the increase in September.
The cost of hospital services increased 0.5 percent and prices for doctor visits rose 0.2 percent. There were also increases in prices for wireless phone services, airline fares, education and motor vehicle insurance.
Prices for used cars and trucks rose 0.7 percent, ending nine-straight months of declines. New motor vehicle prices, however, fell for a second consecutive month as manufacturers resorted to deep discounting to eliminate an inventory overhang.