WASHINGTON May 15 U.S. consumer prices were
flat in April as households paid less for gasoline and natural
gas, possibly giving the U.S. Federal Reserve more room to help
economic growth should the recovery stumble.
The Labor Department said on Tuesday its Consumer Price
Index was unchanged last month after rising 0.3 percent in
March. April's increase was in line with economists'
Outside the volatile food and energy category, inflation
pressures also appeared to be modest. Core CPI edged up 0.2
percent, matching the increase posted in March.
A number of officials at the Fed appear loath to take
further action to help the economy, with some arguing the
central bank needs to get ready to start removing monetary
A separate measure of inflation targeted by the Fed, and
which is not included in Tuesday's report, continues to hover
around the central bank's 2 percent goal.
The Fed has maintained since January that it expects
economic conditions to warrant holding interest rates near zero
through at least late 2014.
Last month, the CPI index was held back by a 2.6 percent
fall in gasoline prices. Natural gas prices dropped 1.8 percent.
Prices also fell for fuel oil.
Food prices climbed 0.2 percent last month.
Overall consumer prices rose 2.3 percent year-on-year, down
from a reading of 2.7 percent in March. In the 12 months to
March, core CPI increased 2.3 percent, the same pace clocked in
Rising gasoline prices have helped keep the overall
inflation hotter than core inflation in recent years. April was
the first month since October 2009 that headline 12-month
reading did not exceed the measure of core inflation.