If the Federal Reserve had any doubts about raising interest rates, the government's latest inflation data should help put them to rest.
As Fed policymakers wrapped up their latest two-day meeting, the central bank was widely expected to boost interest rates as the labor market continues to tighten and inflation moves well into their longstanding target range.
Despite the acceleration in price gains, though, the overall strength of the economy remains relatively weak.
Fed policymakers got the latest confirmation that inflation is heating up on Wednesday. The government reported that consumer prices ticked up again last month, pushing the annual rate to 2.7 percent, the biggest year-on-year gain since March 2012.
The consumer price report came a day after the latest reading on producer prices, a measure of the future price increases coming down the pipeline.
The government's producer price index rose faster than expected in February as the rising cost of services pushed the annual gain to 2.2 percent, also the biggest gain in nearly five years, pointing to steadily rising inflation pressures.
"Looking down the road, sharp rises in intermediate goods costs are pointing to further increases in consumer finished goods prices and that doesn't bode well for inflation," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors.
For much of the recovery since the Great Recession, the threat of higher inflation has been fairly modest. It wasn't long ago that central bankers around the world were worried that a sustained bout of falling prices could pose a greater threat to global growth.