The numbers: Prices of consumer goods and services — the cost of living — rose in December at the fastest pace since last summer as Americans paid more to fill up their gas tanks.
The consumer price index advanced 0.4% last month, the government said Wednesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, sister publications of MarketWatch, had forecast a 0.4% increase.
About 60% of the increase last month was tied to higher gasoline prices.
If gas and food are excluded, the rate of inflation rose a smaller 0.1%, based on a less volatile “core” measure of prices.
The pace of inflation over the past year, however, was still quite low at 1.4%. The yearly rate increased from 1.2% in the prior month.
Before the pandemic began last spring, consumer inflation was running at a much higher 2.3% rate.
Big picture: Investors are talking about inflation again, but it’s likely to hover below 2% through the early spring and probably won’t pose a threat to the economy this year.