Consumer prices increased 0.3 percent in October

Consumer prices climbed 0.3 percent in October, with higher prices for gasoline, used autos and housing contributing to the increase.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that this measure of inflation has jumped 2.5 percent over the past 12 months. Adjusted for rising prices, average weekly wages have improved 0.9 percent this year. That’s an increase of $8.52 in weekly earnings from October 2017.

The Federal Reserve targets inflation at 2 percent, just enough to encourage consumer spending and economic growth without leading to price increases that could destabilize the economy. Fed officials are expected at an upcoming meeting in December to raise a key short-term interest rate for the fourth time this year, in hopes of keeping inflation and check and preventing economic growth from overheating in ways that could trigger a downturn.

But inflation could be tamer in future months because oil prices have been trending lower and the value of the dollar has strengthened.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food costs, rose 0.2 percent in October. This core figure, which many economists consider to be a better indicator of underlying inflation, has risen 2.1 percent from a year ago.

Gas prices increased 3 percent in October, after having dipped 0.2 percent in September.

Housing — the single largest component of the index — increased 0.3 percent in October. Used car and truck prices jumped 2.6 percent on a monthly basis. But food prices slipped as fruits, vegetables, cereals and bakery products became cheaper.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.