The U.S. economy is refusing to slow down, the latest government data indicate, suggesting the Federal Reserve won't be in any particular rush to implement the rate cuts Wall Street has been hoping to see. Inflation at the consumer level accelerated last month as prices increased for energy, a trend that has started to reverse since the calendar turned to 2007. According to the Labor Department, the consumer price index for December rose 0.5%, topping the 0.4% advance that had been estimated by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The index was unchanged in November. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, was up 0.2%, in line with expectations. Year over year, core consumer prices rose 2.6%, the government said Thursday. The data come a day after another report showed that wholesale inflation climbed more than anticipated last month, again because of the impact of energy prices. Separately, construction on new homes was started at a faster-than-expected clip in December as warm weather across large areas of the nation spurred building. Housing starts jumped 4.5% from November to an annual rate of 1.642 million, while building permits rose 5.5%, the biggest increase in four years. Home starts had been forecast to come in at an annual pace of around 1.565 million, down from 1.588 million the previous month. A third data point was also released, with the Labor Department saying that initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 8,000 last week to 290,000, the lowest reading in nearly a year. The less-volatile four-week moving average fell by 6,500 to 308,000.