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Consumer prices rise for fifth straight month as avian flu boosts egg costs

Consumer prices rise for fifth straight month as avian flu boosts egg costs
An outbreak of avian flu pushed egg prices up 18.3% last month, the largest jump since 1973. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Consumer prices rose in June for the fifth straight month and posted their first 12-month increase since December in a sign that extremely low inflation might be abating, the Labor Department said Friday.

The consumer price index increased 0.3% last month, in line with economists' expectations. The figure was down from a 0.4% rise in May.

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Food prices were a major factor in June's increase, rising 0.3% in large part because of sharply higher egg prices. An outbreak of avian flu pushed egg prices up 18.3% last month, the largest jump since 1973.

Overall, food prices posted their biggest increase since September.

Gas prices rose 3.4%, the second straight monthly increase. Energy prices overall were up 1.7% in June.

Shelter, airline tickets and new vehicles also were among the sectors showing price increases.

June's data continued a recent upward trend in prices after they had declined from November through January. Those decreases were driven by lower gasoline prices.

Rising prices in recent months helped push the annual inflation rate up for the first time this year. Prices rose 0.1% for the 12 months ended June 30.

So-called core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was up 1.8% for the same period.

Federal Reserve policymakers are closely watching inflation as they decide when to increase the central bank's benchmark short-term interest rate.

The Fed wants annual inflation of 2%, though it uses a different measure based on personal consumption expenditures.

Follow @JimPuzzanghera on Twitter.

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