Consumer-level inflation was a little stronger than expected in April, suggesting that rising raw-material costs could be making their way into the broader economy.
The consumer price index rose 0.6% last month, topping economists' consensus estimate of 0.5%. Excluding food and energy prices, the so-called "core" CPI rose 0.3%, also a tenth of a percentage point above forecasts. In March, the CPI rose 0.4%, while the core index rose 0.3%.
On Monday, the Labor Department's producer price index was mixed, rising 0.9% on the headline for April and 0.1% among its core components. Economists had predicted rises of 0.8% and 0.2% in those numbers.
Compared with a year ago, the CPI rose 3.5%, reflecting the big run-up in energy prices. On a core basis, consumer inflation rose 2.3%, above the 2% ceiling that is generally assumed to be
comfort band. Incoming inflation data are being combed for their implications for future rate policy.
A reading on personal consumption in last month's report on gross domestic product showed consumer inflation at running at a 2% rate.