The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 21, 2013

Consumer prices little changed

WASHINGTON — The cost of living was little changed in January for a second month as a drop in energy costs made up for gains in other goods and services.

The unchanged reading in the consumer-price index compared with a 0.1 percent gain projected by the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, figures from the Labor Department showed Thursday in Washington. The so-called core measure, which excludes more volatile food and energy costs, increased by the most in more than a year, pushed up by gains in clothing, hotel rates and airline fares.

Fuel costs have climbed this month after an increase in the payroll tax also took a bite out of take-home pay, which may prompt households to rein in purchases and cause companies to hold the line on prices. Joblessness at 7.9 percent may also restrain wage gains, providing a further check on inflation that will give the Federal Reserve room to maintain monetary stimulus.

"The big story from the consumer standpoint is the rise in gasoline prices in the last four weeks, which will start to strain wallets at a time when there's also a problem with tax refunds going out more slowly and the payroll tax hitting them," said Omair Sharif, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Conn., who correctly projected prices would be unchanged.

Consumer-price index estimates in the Bloomberg survey of the 84 economists ranged from a drop of 0.1 percent to a gain of 0.4 percent.

Compared with a year earlier, consumer prices rose 1.6 percent in January, the smallest 12-month gain since July, Thursday's report showed. They climbed 1.7 percent in the 12 months ended December.

The 0.3 percent increase in the core reading was the biggest since May 2011 and followed a 0.1 percent gain in December. Economists projected a 0.2 percent pick-up. Core prices rose 1.9 percent for the year through January, the same as in December.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Sniper-Author-Ventura [Duplicate] Day 3 of deliberations ends in Ventura lawsuit Jury has deliberated 19 hours

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man accused of stealing from group HASTINGS (AP) — An Apple Valley man is charged with five counts of theft for allegedly stealing more than $113,000 from a Rosemount youth athletics group. Sixty-two-year-old Robert Steven Reischauer was the former finance manager of the Rosemount Ar

    July 24, 2014

  • Sanders offers lower-cost bill to reform VA Bill would allow vets to go to private doctors

    July 24, 2014

  • Wetland Loss [Duplicate] Report says Prairie Pothole region losing wetlands BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Federal officials and conservationists say a recent report detailing wetland losses in the five-state Prairie Pothole Region over the past decade highlights the need for increased protection for the region that provides breeding

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • France: Air Algerie flight vanishes over N Mali ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali, the plane's owner and a French government official said. Air navigation services lost

    July 24, 2014

  • Migrant children face test in Dallas immigration court DALLAS — In a packed Dallas immigration courtroom, Elsy Garcia sits next to her 16-year-old brother, Jose. She last saw him when he was 9, when she fled their home in Usulutan in southern El Salvador. Now Jose is facing deportation. His case is conf

    July 24, 2014

  • Poet takes his act to Las Vegas LAS VEGAS — The old poet is dressed in black, his platinum-blond hair rakishly moussed. He stands amid the hubbub, facing a stern test of his crafted words and carnival-barker delivery. The venue is a smoky lounge called Ichabod’s, east of the Strip.

    July 23, 2014

  • Minnesota race track to refund horse owners ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota race track manager says the track will refund horse owners after an audit found it shorted race purses by nearly $437,000 over four years. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (http://bit.ly/1p9mtEh ) the Running Aces

    July 23, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysia jet victims leave Ukraine KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, while British investigators began work on a pair of "black boxes" to retrieve da

    July 23, 2014

  • Attorney general sues 2 Minn. colleges ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against two colleges, accusing the schools of misleading criminal justice students about their ability to land a job in their field and about transferring credits to other instit

    July 22, 2014