Consumer Prices Rise on Higher Food, Clothing Costs

consumer price index food clothing tobacco costs rise economy
Mark Lennihan/AP

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer prices rose as expected in July, which could comfort Federal Reserve officials worried about low inflation as they weigh trimming their massive bond buying program.

The Labor Department said Thursday its Consumer Price Index rose 0.2 percent as the cost of goods and services ranging from tobacco to apparel and food increased. The CPI had increased 0.5 percent in June.

July's increase in consumer inflation was in line with economist expectations.

In the 12 months through July, the CPI advanced 2.0 percent, the largest increase since February, after increasing 1.8 percent in June.

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The push in inflation to the Fed's 2 percent target could offer some comfort to some central bank officials who have warned on the potential dangers of inflation running too low.

Stripping out energy and food, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent for a third straight month.

That took the increase over the past 12 months to 1.7 percent. The core CPI had gained 1.6 percent in June.

The uptick in prices fits in with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's views that the low inflation was temporary.

The U.S. central bank has said it plans to start trimming the $85 billion in bonds it is purchasing each month to keep borrowing costs low later this year.

Most economists anticipate the Fed will make an announcement in September on the future of the bond purchasing program.

In July, prices for new motor vehicles, apparel, tobacco, medical care and shelter increased.