News Summary: Costlier gas pushes up US prices

PRICES RISE: U.S. consumer prices rose 0.6 percent last month, the Labor Department said Thursday, mostly because of higher gas prices. Excluding the volatile energy and food categories, prices rose only 0.1 percent for the third straight month.

BENEFIT INCREASE: The small increase in prices prompted the government to raise Social Security benefits 1.7 percent next year for 56 million recipients. The government increases benefits each year if prices rise.

FLAT PRICES AHEAD: Consumer prices have risen about 2 percent in the past 12 months. With gas prices leveling off, inflation will probably remain at that level or lower for the rest of the year, economists said.