) -- Escalating fuel prices helped push consumer costs higher in July, according to a government report released Friday morning, which may keep deflation worries at bay.
The nation's consumer price index rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.3% last month, the Labor Department said. The cost increase was just ahead of the 0.2% jump expected by most analysts, according to projections provided by Briefing.com, and followed a June report that saw prices edge lower by 0.1%.
After stripping out food and energy costs, the gauge's so-called "core" measure ticked higher by 0.1%, which was in-line with expectations. Increasing costs for apparel and cars, among other items, helped the broader gauge outdistance declining prices for medical care and airline tickets.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said more than two-thirds of the July jump was because of rising energy costs, which marked an increase after three straight months of declines. The report's energy index rose 2.6% last month.
The CPI has increased 1.2% since last year, the report continued.
Futures were pointing to a modestly lower open after the CPI and a barrage of other consumer statistics came in the morning. S&P 500 futures were down 1 point at 1078.2, and were 3.21 points below fair value. Nasdaq futures were losing 2.5 points at 1824.75, and were 6.57 points below fair value.
--Written by Sung Moss in New York