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CPI rises on jump in the cost of shelter

A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Yo
A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Yo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumer prices rose in October as the cost of shelter surged by the most in over four years, while gasoline prices fell in a boost for consumer spending power.

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.1 percent last month, in line with analysts' expectations, data from the Labor Department showed on Thursday.

The data still pointed to only modest inflation pressures that appear unlikely to derail the U.S. Federal Reserve's plan to keep interest rates low for an extended period.

Prices for shelter, which include rent, rose 0.3 percent during the month, the most since 2008, and accounted for over half of the overall increase in the CPI. That could be a hopeful sign for the economy if it is because landlords felt they have more leverage to raise rents. Rents for primary residences rose 0.4 percent.

Gasoline prices fell 0.6 percent in October after climbing 7 percent the prior month. That was the first drop in gasoline prices since June. Higher costs at the pump have forced many American consumers to cut back on other spending.

A measure of underlying inflation was relatively muted. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, increased 0.2 percent.

In the 12 months to October overall consumer prices increased 2.2 percent, up a tenth of a point from September's reading. Core prices rose 2 percent in the year through October.

Most economists don't see inflation threatening the economy in the short or long term.

However, some believe the U.S. Federal Reserve would tolerate prices rising faster than the central bank's 2 percent target over the shorter term to allow faster economic growth as the country recovers from the 2007-09 recession.

The Fed targets a separate measure of inflation calculated by the Commerce Department which tends to run cooler than the CPI.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

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