Updated from 9:07 a.m. EDT

Skyrocketing energy prices caused inflation at the consumer level in September to see its biggest rise since 1980, but the core rate showed a benign increase last month.

The overall consumer price index rose 1.2%, while excluding food and energy, core consumer-level inflation was up 0.1% last month, the Labor Department said. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had been looking for a 0.9% increase in the CPI and a 0.2% uptick in the core rate.

Energy prices accounted for the greatest part of the CPI increase, climbing higher last month as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted oil refining and shipping from the Gulf Coast. After Katrina, a barrel of oil briefly fetched $70 in the futures market.

The core rate was rising at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2%, compared with 2.1% the previous month.

Separately, the Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2% in September. Excluding car sales, retail sales were up 1.1%, a stronger number than economists had been expecting.

The Federal Reserve, which has raised the overnight bank lending rate 11 times in the last 16 months in a bid to fight inflation, probably won't find anything in the reports that will prevent it from hiking the fed funds target rate again.

A number of Fed officials have made comments in recent days saying that they remained concerned about inflation, strongly suggesting the fed funds rate will go to 4% from the current 3.75% at the central bank's November meeting.

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