News Summary: US consumer prices flat in January

News Summary: Little sign of inflation as US consumer prices unchanged in January

Associated Press
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FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 file photo, a woman shops at a Nordstrom store in Chicago. U.S. consumer prices were flat last month, the latest sign inflation is in check. That could give the Federal Reserve room to continue its efforts to stimulate growth. The consumer price index has risen 1.6 percent in the 12 months ending in January, the Labor Department said Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. That's down from a 2.9 percent pace a year ago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

MARKING TIME: U.S. consumer prices were flat in January for the second consecutive month. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices rose 0.3 percent, pushed up by higher costs for clothing, air fares and rents.

LONGER VIEW: The Labor Department said the consumer price index has risen 1.6 percent in the 12 months ending in January, down from a 2.9 percent pace a year ago. Core prices have risen 1.9 percent in the past year, below the Federal Reserve's inflation target.

THE OUTLOOK: Low inflation leaves consumers with more money to spend, which benefits the economy. Private economists see little sign that prices increases are accelerating.

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