U.S. consumer prices barely rose in July as declining energy costs partially offset increases in food and rents, which could give the Federal Reserve ammunition to keep interest rates low for a while.
The Labor Department said on Tuesday its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month after increasing 0.3 percent in June. In the 12 months through July, the CPI increased 2.0 percent after advancing 2.1 percent in June.
Inflation pushed up a bit from March through June, but labor market slack, marked by tepid wage growth, is keeping a lid on price pressures. That could add to the view that the U.S. central bank will be in no hurry to raise its benchmark interest rate.
The Fed targets 2 percent inflation and it tracks an index that is running even lower than the CPI.
The Fed last month said the risk of inflation running persistently below its target had diminished somewhat. It has kept its overnight lending rate near zero since December 2008 while nursing the economy back to health.
Last month’s gain in consumer prices was in line with economists’ expectations.