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Higher gasoline prices push U.S. inflation rate up to 0.4% in November

Gasoline prices in the U.S. rose by 7.3 per cent last month, enough to push the country's overall inflation rate up to 0.4 per cent.
U.S. gasoline prices have risen by 16 per cent in the past year, new government data showed Wednesday. (Simon Hergott)

Gasoline prices in the U.S. rose by 7.3 per cent in November, enough to push the country's overall monthly inflation rate up to 0.4 per cent.

The Department of Labour said Wednesday that November's data means the annual inflation rate hit 2.2 per cent for the 12-month period.

"Gains were pretty much across the board, with higher costs for energy, transportation, utilities, and drugs kicking in," Bank of Montreal economist Jennifer Lee said of the data.

Prices for airline tickets and clothing and apparel all came down during the month.

Stripping out volatile items like food and energy, the so-called core inflation rate for November was a more muted 0.1 per cent, and the annual rate dropped to 1.7 per cent.

Still, the headline figure is strong enough to justify the rate hike that economists polled by Bloomberg unanimously expect to be announced when the Federal Reserve emerges from its two-day policy meeting later on Wednesday.

"The Federal Reserve is breathing a bit easier today as inflation continues to slowly — very slowly — edge higher," Lee said. 

Economic growth has reached an annual pace of three per cent or better in each of the last two quarters for the first time since 2014. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low 4.1 per cent. 

With files from The Associated Press

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