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U.S.: Gasoline jump fuels price increase, but inflation tame

Gas prices are displayed at a gas station

Gas prices are displayed at a gas station in Los Angeles. Higher gas prices have spurred a 0.5 percent rise in the consumer price index, the largest increase since February. (July 16, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Higher gasoline costs pushed U.S. consumer prices up in June. But the overall trend in inflation stayed tame.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday its consumer price index increased 0.5 percent in June from May. Two-thirds of the increase came from a 6.3 percent jump in gas prices, the largest since February.

In metropolitan New York, prices rose 0.3 percent last month compared with May because of higher costs for food, energy and shelter.

Consumer prices have been stable this year, allowing the Federal Reserve room to continue efforts to stimulate the economy.

Nationwide, overall prices have risen 1.8 percent over the past 12 months.

Slow economic growth and high unemployment have kept wages from rising quickly. That has made it harder for retailers and other firms to raise prices. Tame inflation has helped consumers increase spending this year despite slow income growth and higher Social Security taxes.

In June, prices for all energy products rose 3.4 percent mostly because of the surge in gasoline costs. Beyond that, other prices were little changed.

Food prices ticked up 0.2 percent. New car prices increased 0.3 percent and are up just 1.3 percent over the past year. Prices for used cars fell 0.4 percent and are down 2.3 percent over the past year.

In the New York metro area that includes Long Island, the price index climbed 1.8 percent in June compared with a year earlier. The year-over-year increase was the largest since March.

The cost of shelter climbed 2.2 percent last month compared with June 2012 as residential rents gained 3 percent, according to Martin Kohli, the bureau's chief regional economist.

Prices for natural gas rose 6.1 percent, year over year. Groceries were up 2 percent and medical care, 3.5 percent.

With James T. Madore

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