WASHINGTON – Inflation at the consumer level rose by a larger-than-expected amount in January as falling energy prices only partially offset big increases in the cost of medical care, food and airline tickets.
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that prices rose by 0.2 percent in January. That was down from a 0.4 percent rise in December, but it was higher than the 0.1 percent increase that Wall Street had been expecting.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food components, also was up more than analysts had been expecting, rising by 0.3 percent. It was the largest one-month gain in seven months.
While energy prices dropped by 1.5 percent, food prices were up 0.7 percent, the biggest rise since the spring of 2005, as the cost of dairy products, fruits and vegetables all showed big gains.
The cost of medical care shot up 0.8 percent, the biggest increase in more than 15 years, reflecting higher costs for prescription drugs and doctor services, which were rising in January at the fastest clip in 25 years.
Airline tickets jumped by 2.1 percent, the biggest gain since November 2004. The cost of tobacco products rose by 3.1 percent, the largest increase in 4 1/2 years.