U.S. consumer prices unchanged in October

FILE PHOTO: A shopper wearing a protective mask tries on clothes at a retail store following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, New York, U.S., July 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer prices were unexpectedly unchanged in October as moderate gains in the cost of food were offset by cheaper gasoline amid slack in the economy, which could allow the Federal Reserve to keep its ultra easy monetary policy for a long time to aid the recovery from the COVID-29 recession.

The Labor Department said on Thursday said the unchanged reading in its consumer price index last month followed a 0.2% increase in September. In the 12 months through October, the CPI climbed 1.2% after increasing 1.4% in September.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the CPI nudging up 0.1% in October and advancing 1.3% year-on-year.

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI was also flat in October after rising 0.2% in the prior month. The so-called core CPI increased 1.6% year-on-year after gaining 1.7% in September.

The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index rose 1.5% in the 12 months through September. The central bank has a 2% target, a flexible average. October’s core PCE price index data is scheduled to be released at the end of this month.

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