U.S. consumer prices were flat in November, but a bounce back in the annual inflation rate from a four-year low will probably give the Federal Reserve cover to start dialing back it massive monetary stimulus.
The Labor Department said on Tuesday its Consumer Price Index was restrained last month by declines in gasoline and natural gas prices, after slipping 0.1 percent in October.
In the 12 months through November, the CPI rose 1.2 percent. It had increased 1.0 percent in October, the smallest advance since October 2009.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer prices nudging up 0.1 percent last month and increasing 1.3 percent from a year ago.
Stripping out the volatile energy and food components, the so-called core CPI rose 0.2 percent after rising by 0.1 percent for three consecutive months.
That took the increase over the past 12 months to 1.7 percent, rising by the same margin for a third straight month.