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Metro area consumer prices rose modestly in January

The sedate rise in local prices stands in contrast to faster growth in national prices.

Consumer prices in the metropolitan area rose last month at their slowest rate, year over year, since 2016.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday reported its consumer price index for the 25-county region that includes Long Island climbed 1.4 percent in January compared with a year earlier.

The last time the index grew at a slower rate annually was October 2016, when it increased 1.2 percent.

The index’s low reading for last month is in sharp contrast to the bureau’s nationwide price index reading, which in one month climbed 0.3 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, excluding the volatile food and energy categories. That’s the biggest monthly increase for the national index in a year.

The New York-area index is not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in prices, so it is measured year over year. If food and energy are excluded, the area index rose 1.1 percent in January compared with a year earlier.

Both price indexes are indicators of inflation, which Wall Street has been focused on recently.

Fears about accelerating price increases and the possibility that the Federal Reserve would respond with a series of interest rate hikes have contributed to wild gyrations in the stock market the past two weeks.

In the metropolitan area, housing costs helped fuel the index’s rise in January compared with a year earlier, said Martin Kohli, the bureau’s chief regional economist.

Residential rents were up 2.2 percent, year over year.

The cost of gasoline rose 6.5 percent last month compared with January 2017. Electricity and natural gas were up 2.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Grocery prices climbed 1.5 percent last month compared with January 2017. And the cost of medical care rose 1.9 percent.

These increases were partially offset by declines in the price of clothing, and education/communications commodities (including textbooks and PCs), which fell 2.2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

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