US consumer prices tick up just 0.1 percent last month despite big gain in energy costs

The Associated Press

In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, photo, a shopper looks in the window of an ALDO store in the Mall in Robinson Township, Pa. The Labor Department reports on U.S. consumer prices in January on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices barely rose last month as a sharp rise in energy costs was offset by cheaper clothing, cars and air fares. The figures suggest inflation remains mild.

The Labor Department says the consumer price index rose just 0.1 percent in January, down from 0.2 percent in December. Prices have risen 1.6 percent in the past 12 months. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices also rose 0.1 percent last month and 1.6 percent in the past year.

Still, cold weather pushed up the cost of gas, electricity and other home energy by the most in more than five years.

Yet other items fell or barely rose: Food prices increased just 0.1 percent, and the cost of men's clothing fell by the most in nearly five years.

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