Fed may have just gotten a red light for rate hike

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Inside the mind of the Fed

The Federal Reserve got a little more breathing room Wednesday from the push to raise interest rates in September.

A widely followed inflation gauge—though not the Fed's favorite one—showed that outside of rising rents, there was little price pressure in the marketplace. The consumer price index rose just 0.1 percent in July. Even excluding food and energy prices, the CPI was only up the same 0.1 percent.

On an annualized basis, the index rose just 1.8 percent, which is below the Fed's current 2 percent inflation target.

Tumbling energy prices are the root of the CPI's weak performance, with the overall sector down 14.8 percent over the 12-month period, though up 0.1 percent for the month. One of the the more notable increases came from rent, which rose 0.3 percent in July and 3.6 percent for the year. Airfares plunged 5.6 percent, the most in 20 years, and fuel oil fell 3.4 percent in July.

Viewed together, the data take still more of the steam out of an argument for the Fed to raise rates in September for the first time in more than nine years.