US inflation rate climbed 0.4 percent in February

March 18th, 2009 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 18 (DPA) The US inflation rate climbed 0.4 percent in February, the largest increase in seven months as the US battles a deep recession that has driven down consumer prices, the Labour Department said Wednesday.
February’s rising seasonally-adjusted rate followed a 0.3-percent increase the month before. Consumer prices were level over the course of 2008 for the first time since 1955 and fell in the year’s final three months as a massive financial crisis spread across the economy.

The new figures could ease concerns at the US central bank that record low interest rates aimed at reviving the economy are causing deflation. The Federal Reserve is expected to keep its benchmark federal funds rate at 0-0.25 percent at a meeting later Wednesday.

The monthly increase was led by climbing petrol, clothing and automobile prices. Energy prices jumped 3.3 percent in February while food prices dropped 0.1 percent. The cost of energy has plunged 29.2 percent since July.

Excluding the more volatile food and energy prices, inflation stood at 0.2 percent on the month, the Labour Department said.

The US, the world’s largest economy, has been in recession since December 2007.

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