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April Consumer Prices Rose 0.4%, Below Forecasts; Core Rate In Line

U.S. consumer prices advanced 0.4% in April on a continued rise in energy and food prices, but that was below expectations and painted a somewhat stable inflation picture, a government report on Tuesday showed.

Wall Street economists polled ahead of the Labor Department report were expecting the Consumer Price Index to advance 0.5%. The core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, advanced 0.2% in April. That was directly in line with expectations.

During the first four months of this year, the overall CPI rose at a 4.8% seasonally adjusted annual rate. That compares with an increase of 2.5% for all of 2006. But price advances were more moderate excluding food and energy, with the core rate advancing at just a 2.2% rate during the first four months, after rising 2.6% in 2006.

"The acceleration thus far this year was due to larger increases in the energy and food components," the Labor Department said.

Food prices advanced 0.4% last month, while energy rose 2.4%. For the first four months of this year food and energy rose at a 6.7% and 25.3% annual rate, respectively.

Higher prices for food and gasoline helped bring down weekly earnings, after adjustment for inflation, by 0.5% in April, the biggest monthly decline in nearly a year.

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