Core Consumer Prices Stateside Enjoy Biggest Spike in 11 Mos.

Underlying U.S. consumer prices recorded their largest increase in 11 months in December amid strong gains in the cost of rental accommodation and health care, bolstering expectations that inflation will gain momentum this year.

Figures released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index -- excluding the volatile food and energy components --
rose 0.3%, last month also as prices for new motor vehicles, used cars and trucks and motor vehicle insurance increased.

That was the biggest advance in the so-called core CPI since January and followed a 0.1% gain in November. Core CPI increased 1.8% in the 12 months through December, picking up from 1.7% in November. Economists had forecast core inflation rising 0.2% month-on-month and holding steady at 1.7% on an annual basis.

Weak import and producer price reports this week had raised concerns about the inflation outlook, although the two reports do not have a strong correlation with the CPI data.