U.S. consumer prices rose modestly in November as energy costs that had shot up a month earlier and fanned inflation (search) fears posted only a small gain last month, the Labor Department (search) said on Friday.

The Consumer Price Index (search), widely taken as a gauge of inflation risks, was up 0.2 percent - in line with Wall Street economists' expectations — after registering a 0.6 percent jump in October. Even excluding volatile energy and food costs, CPI advanced 0.2 percent in November after a matching gain in October.

Overall energy prices increased 0.2 percent last month after a 4.2 percent October rise. But October's price increase, which was the biggest in five months, was an exception, the pace of price rises this year has run well ahead of last year's rate. The department said during the first 11 months of 2004, the CPI has risen at a 3.7 percent annual rate, nearly double the 1.9 percent rise for all of 2003.