Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, is in line with the consensus on CPI. "The headline CPI for January will be boosted by the increase in gasoline prices, which alone will add 0.13% to the index," he wrote late Thursday. "Note that the big kick from gas will come in February, when it will likely add 0.4% to the CPI. Assuming a modest increase in food prices and small gains elsewhere in the core, we think the headline number will rise by 0.3% with the core up 0.1%. That would leave the core inflation rate at 2.2% for the third month in succession." Shepherdson expects that's about where the rate should sit for the rest of 2012. "We expect little further increase in core inflation this year, and it could even drift down if clothing prices soften the way we expect and rent increases remain constrained by the slow growth of wages," he said. Shepherdson is also on board with the consensus when it comes to leading indicators, saying the view for a 0.5% increase is supported by a "rising workweek, higher stock prices, and the positively sloped yield curve." "If we're right, January will mark the fourth straight monthly gain in the index, and based on what we already know about February, a fifth increase is a good be," he added. And finally, Thursday's after-hours session featured a strong move to the upside by Applied Materials ( AMAT), which rode a 6-cent earnings per share beat and a strong guidance for the current quarter to a gain of 5%-plus in late trades. Also Baidu ( BIDU) finally delivered its fourth-quarter report and saw some characteristic volatility in the extended session. The stock closed at $141.83, up 2.5% in the regular session, and was last quoted at $142.86, up 0.7%, on after-hours volume of 2.3 million, according to Nasdaq.com. The shares have ranged from a high of $148.50 to a low of $136.04 though as investors digested a solid beat in the latest quarter against expectations for a sequential revenue decline from the high-flying Chinese Internet search company. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.