CPI Stokes Fear Factor - TheStreet

Investors got another reason to worry about inflation Wednesday.

The government said the consumer price index rose 0.4% in February, surpassing economists' forecasts for a 0.3% gain. The core rate, which measures prices excluding energy and food, rose 0.3%, also slightly more than expected.In January, prices rose 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively.

The unwelcome CPI data follows the


decision Tuesday to raise interest rates another quarter of a percentage point and indications that it saw a greater risk of inflation than in the recent past. The Fed's policy comments added to recent concerns that the central bank might be prepared to take a more aggressive approach in raising rates after seven small hikes since last June.

On Tuesday, the government said the February producer price index came in at 0.4%, slightly above economists' consensus estimate of 0.3%. Excluding food and energy, the core PPI rose 0.1%, matching forecasts.

Higher energy prices hit consumers on several fronts in February. Overall prices rose 2%. Gasoline prices jumped 3.2%, natural gas prices rose 2.5% and fuel oil increased 2.4%.

The CPI data drove stock futures and bond prices lower in early trading Wednesday.