) -- A key reading that tracks inflation came in slightly lower than expected last month, according to a government report released Friday morning.

The Labor Department said the consumer price index edged higher by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in December after posting a 0.4% rise in November, suggesting inflation for consumers remains bridled. Economists anticipated the CPI to move higher by 0.2% during the month.

The index tracked higher by 2.7% since last year.

Core CPI, which strips out volatile energy and food costs, matched expectations in rising by 0.1% after holding unchanged in November.

The report cites a surge in used car prices as a primary culprit for the broader rise, as those prices rose by 2.5%. That showing, which also rose by 2% in November, accounted for nearly half of the larger tick higher last month. Airline fares increased 2.4%, while apparel prices advanced 0.4%.

Food prices rose by 0.2% during December after tracking higher by 0.1% in the month prior. Energy prices, which soared 4.1% in November, advanced at a slower 0.2% pace in December.

Stock futures were pointing to a lower open after the news, with investors focused on earnings releases from


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--Written by Sung Moss in New York