Inflation grew worse in February amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine and price pressures that became more entrenched.
The consumer price index, which measures a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, increased 7.9% over the past 12 months, a fresh 40-year high for the closely followed gauge.
The February acceleration was the fastest pace since January1982, back when the U.S. economy confronted the twin threat of higher inflation and reduced economic growth.
On a month-over-month basis, the CPI gain was 0.8%. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected headline inflation to increase 7.8% for the year and 0.7% for the month.
Food prices rose 1% and food at home jumped 1.4%, both the fastest monthly gains since April 2020, in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Energy also was at the forefront of ballooning prices, up 3.5% for February and accounting for about one-third of the headline gain. Shelter costs, which account for about one-third of the CPI weighting, accelerated another 0.5%, for a 12-month gain of 4.7%.
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core inflation rose 6.4%, in line with estimates and the highest since August 1982. On a monthly basis, core CPI was up 0.5, also consistent with Wall Street expectations.
The inflation surge is in keeping with price gains over the past year. Inflation has roared higher amid an unprecedented government spending blitz coupled with persistent supply-chain disruptions that have been unable to keep up with stimulus-fueled demand, particularly for goods over services.
Vehicle costs have been a powerful force, but showed signs of easing in February. Used car and truck prices actually declined 0.2%, their first negative showing since September, but are still up 41.2% over the past year. New car prices rise 0.3% for the month and 12.4% over the 12-month period.
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