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US inflation up only 0.1 percent

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by Elaine Frei

Inflation was up only slightly in the United States in February as the Consumer Price Index was up by 0.1 percent, down from a rise of 0.7 percent in January. The new data indicates that inflation remains well under control and made some analysts speculate that it won’t be long before the Federal Reserve halts its series of interest rate hikes. While they still expect another rate hike at the end of the month, some analysts now expect that the series of hikes, now at 14 meetings in a row, will pause sooner rather than later.

The core inflation rate, excluding prices on foods and energy, was also up just 0.1 percent, less than the 0.2 percent that had been expected. In the year ending in February, core inflation was up 2.1 percent, while inflation taking in all sectors had risen 3.6 percent in the year.

Even though inflation remains low, however, separate data indicated that wages are not keeping pace with rises in the cost of living.

The new inflation data brought mixed results for the US dollar in currencies markets. At midday in New York, the euro had risen 1.2 percent in relation to the greenback, to $1.2153, while sterling was up 0.5 percent against the dollar to $1.7553. The yen, however, dropped versus the dollar, by 0.5 percent to ¥117.

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News posted: March 16, 2006

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