Consumer Prices Rise 0.4% - TheStreet



) -- Consumer prices rose in line with expectations in November, according to a government report Wednesday that came out a day after inflation concerns were stoked by a bigger-than-expected jump in wholesale prices over the same period.

The nation's consumer price index, a snapshot of costs for goods and services around the country, ticked higher by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in November, according to the Labor Department. The measure was also up from October, when the CPI advanced by 0.3%.

Prices have also gone higher by 1.8% since a year ago.

After stripping out volatile food and energy costs, the so-called "core" measure remained flat during November, though analysts expected that figure to edge higher by 0.1%.

Food costs climbed higher by 0.1% during the month.

A 4.1% jump in energy costs, however, was the primary culprit for the rise in the CPI measure. According to the Labor Department, upticks in gasoline, electricity, fuel oil and natural gas costs led the way for the energy measure's largest increase since August.

But the overall consumer inflationary measure still landed right in line with economists' forecasts. The market took the news in stride Wednesday, after selling off on Tuesday when the Labor Department reported an unexpected jump in wholesale prices. The

producer price index soared by 1.8% in November, far outpacing estimates for a 0.8% rise and stoking some inflation concerns throughout the trading session.

Market observers will continue to key on inflation Wednesday, as the

Federal Reserve's

Federal Open Market Committee

is expected to release a statement at the conclusion of their policy-making meeting in the afternoon. The central bankers are expected to keep their key rate unchanged, but improving economic data suggests that some changes in monetary policy may be nearing sooner rather than later.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke continued to assert that "the bulk of the evidence indicates that resource slack is now substantial," since the unemployment rate remains above 10% and manufacturing capacity continues to lag. In a series of recently released written responses to inquiries posed by Sen. Jim Bunning (R., Ky.) on Dec. 8, Bernanke wrote, "I continue to expect slack resources, together with the stability of inflation expectations, to contribute to the maintenance of low inflation in the period ahead."


Retail HOLDRs

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ETF was adding 31 cents, or 0.3%, to $94.76 in the morning. Consumer goods meccas like


(WMT) - Get Report



(COST) - Get Report

were also rising 0.1% and 0.6% each in the morning.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York