U.S. CPI Beats Projections

Things cost more down south last month, according to figures released Tuesday.

The U.S. Labor Department reported consumer prices shot higher in March, given a boost by a strong economic recovery and year-over-year comparisons to a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was about to throttle the U.S. economy.

The consumer price index rose 0.6% from the previous month but 2.6% from the same period a year ago. The year-over-year gain is the highest since August 2018 and was well above the 1.7% recorded in February.

Dow Jones estimates had the index rising 0.5% on a monthly basis and 2.5% from March 2020.

The jump took place on the back of gasoline prices, which surged 9.1% in March and proved responsible for about half the overall CPI increase. Gasoline is up 22.5% from a year ago, part of a 13.2% increase in energy prices.

Food nudged higher as well, up 0.1% for the month and 3.5% for the year. The food-at-home category increased 3.3%. All six of the government’s measures of grocery store indexes rose, with the biggest gain of 5.4% in the category of meats, poultry, fish and eggs.