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US consumer prices up 0.4% in October; gasoline prices surge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Surging gasoline prices caused U.S. consumer prices to rise last month at the fastest pace since March. The Labor Department said Wednesday that its consumer price index rose 0.4% in October after a flat reading in September. Gasoline prices, after drops in August and September, jumped 3.7% last month. Excluding volatile energy and food prices, so-called core consumer inflation rose just 0.2% in October.

Overall consumer prices rose 1.8% over the past year, just below the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. Core prices increased 2.3%. Despite last month’s climb, gasoline prices are down 7.3% since October 2018.

Food prices rose 0.2% from September to October, biggest increase since May. New car prices fell 0.2%, fourth straight monthly drop. But used vehicle prices rose 1.3%, most since June. Relatively tame inflation has allowed the Fed to cut short-term U.S. interest rates three times this year to support an American economy slowed by trade disputes with China and other U.S. trading partners.

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