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Housing costs push metro area price index up, feds report

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said its

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said its consumer price index for the 25-county region that includes Long Island increased 1.9 percent last month compared with November 2017. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

Consumer prices in the metropolitan area rose modestly in November from a year earlier on higher housing costs.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday its consumer price index for the 25-county region that includes Long Island increased 1.9 percent last month compared with November 2017.

The index has climbed about 2 percent, year over year, since the spring.

In November, the cost of housing, including residential rent, rose 2 percent from a year earlier.

Grocery prices were up 1.6 percent.

The cost of gasoline climbed 7.1 percent, year over year. Electricity and natural gas prices rose 1.2 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

The cost of medical care was up 3.3 percent compared with November 2017.

The increases were partially offset by a 1.1 percent drop in the price of clothing, year over year. The cost of durable goods was down 0.4 percent.

Nationally, the price index rose 2.2 percent last month compared with a year earlier.

The rise was driven in part by the higher cost of housing and energy.

Housing prices were up 3.2 percent, year over year. Gasoline was up 5 percent.

Curt Long, chief economist for the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, predicted pump prices would increase.

"OPEC and other oil producers agreed earlier this month to slash production in a bid to support prices," he said. "A rising dollar is also helping hold down import prices. However, inflationary pressures are being buoyed by recent increases to wage gains amid a tight labor market."

He also predicted the Federal Reserve would raise short-term interest rates later this month but reduce the number of rate hikes in 2019 from three to two.

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