Consumer prices up 2.9 percent

Consumer prices up 2.9 percent

The core measure on a year-over- year basis advanced 2.4 per cent, the biggest jump in that measure since September 2008.

Energy prices dropped 0.5 percent sequentially, falling for a second straight month. Core goods prices rose for the first time in five months, rising 0.1 percent sequentially while core services accelerated to 0.3 percent from 0.2 percent.

A labor department report, also released on Friday, showed inflation-adjusted wage gains were flat versus the previous month, and had fallen 0.2% year-on-year.

The rise in the CPI in July was led by a 0.3% gain in housing costs. Excluding food and energy, the core gauge was also up 0.2 per cent, the same as projected. The sudden increase in prices has not only wiped out wage growth, but it also creates pressure for the Federal Reserve to hike short-term interest rates so that inflation stays close to the US central bank's 2 percent target.

The U.S. central bank has raised rates twice this year, in March and June, and financial markets overwhelmingly expect a hike at the next policy meeting in September. Among them were hotel and motel rates, which rose 0.4% after a record decline of 4.1% in June.

Healthcare costs fell 0.2 percent after gaining 0.4 percent in June. Apparel prices fell 0.3 percent after declining 0.9 percent in June.

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Rising gasoline costs have complicated the inflation picture.

The Fed's preferred gauge of inflation - a consumption-based figure that tends to run slightly below the Labor Department's price index - has been at or above the central bank's 2 percent goal since March, though the related core index was still shy of the target.

That gauge hit the US central bank's 2 percent target in March for the first time in more than six years and Fed policymakers have said they will not be unduly concerned if it overshoots its target in the coming months. Inflation has made progress, and the unemployment rate, at 3.9 percent in July, signals the Fed is near its maximum-employment goal.

The labor market is tight, with more job openings than people to fill them, domestic demand is being buoyed by tax cuts and spending, and tariffs will soon raise the price of imported consumer goods. But that's getting harder to do as trade tension escalates.

The Labor Department said its producer price index was unchanged in July after rising by 0.3 percent in June.

Information for this article was contributed by Chris Middleton and Andrew Mayeda of Bloomberg News and by Josh Boak of The Associated Press.

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