U.S. consumer prices unexpectedly fell in December as the cost of energy goods dropped and services rose moderately, a trend that if sustained suggests inflation could be slow to rise toward the Federal Reserve's target.
The Labor Department said on Wednesday its Consumer Price Index slipped 0.1 percent after being unchanged in November. Despite the drop last month, the CPI increased 0.7 percent in the 12 months through December, the biggest increase in a year.
The rise followed a 0.5 percent gain in November. The year-over-year inflation rate is rising as the oil price-driven weak readings in 2015 drop out of the calculation. The boost from the so-called base effects could, however, be limited by lower oil prices, which are near 12-year lows.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the CPI unchanged last month and rising 0.8 percent from a year ago.