Washington, D.C. A Friday report from the Labor Department showed that the cost of living in the U.S. rose less than forecast in September, indicating limited consumer demand is making it difficult for companies to raise prices.
The consumer-price index rose 0.1% after 0.3% gains in the prior two months. Economists projected a 0.2% gain, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Excluding volatile food and fuel costs, the core rate was unchanged for a second month.
“Inflation expectations are more likely to fall back than continue to increase,” Paul Dales, a U.S. economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in Toronto, said before the report. “The downward pressure on wages and prices stemming from high unemployment should be offset for a while by upward pressure on the prices of food and energy.”
The forecast gain in consumer prices was based on the median of 79 economists in the Bloomberg survey. Estimates ranged from gains of 0.1% to 0.4%.
In the 12 months ended in September, prices rose 1.1%, matching the year-over-year gain the prior month. The core rate rose 0.8% from September 2009, the smallest year-over-year gain since 1961. Energy costs increased 0.7% from a month earlier, and food costs rose 0.3%.
Apparel prices fell 0.6%, the most since April, and new car prices rose 0.1%.