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Rising food, housing costs push up U.S. inflation

By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. consumer prices firmed a bit in March, as food and housing rental costs rose in a possible sign that a disinflationary trend had run its course. The increase should allay concerns among some Federal Reserve officials that inflation was running too low, although the rise was mild enough to suggest the central bank could keep benchmark interest rates near zero for quite some time.

UK inflation hits new four-year low, house prices continue rise

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa and David Milliken LONDON (Reuters) - British inflation fell to its lowest in over four years in March, easing pressure on living standards and raising the prospect that prices may now be rising by less than wages for the first time in years. The sharp decline in Britons' living standards since the financial crisis - due to a mix of tax rises, high inflation and meager wage growth - has become a key political battle ground, a year before national elections.

US inflation strengthens in March

US consumer prices rose in March driven by surges in the cost of food, housing and other services, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday. The consumer price index was up 0.2 percent over February, taking the 12-month gain to 1.5 percent. Energy prices fell slightly, while food prices rose 0.5 percent, shelter costs jumped 2.7 percent and health care service costs gained 2.4 percent. Stripped of the volatile food and energy costs, core CPI rose 0.2 percent as well. The core index was up 1.7 percent for the 12 months to March.

Producer prices up; consumer morale at nine-month high

By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. producer prices recorded their largest increase in nine months in March as the cost of food and trade services surged, pointing to some pockets of inflation at the factory gate. Other data on Friday showed consumer sentiment hit a nine-month high in April, strengthening views economic activity was regaining momentum after a weather-induced lull early this year.

China consumer prices rise, but industry deflation persists

By Adam Rose BEIJING (Reuters) - China's consumer inflation rate increased in March as fresh food prices jumped, but persistent deflation in the industrial sector was another signal of weak demand and slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.4 percent in March from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday, more from a 2.0 percent rise in February but just below the median forecast in a Reuters poll.

German inflation hits three-year low in March

The rate of inflation in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, fell to its lowest level in more than three years in March, official preliminary data showed on Friday. The cost of living rose by 1.0 percent on a 12-month basis this month, down from 1.2 percent in February, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement. The last time inflation in Europe's biggest economy was lower was in June 2010.

US incomes, spending rise in February; inflation low

US consumer incomes and spending gained for the second straight month in February, while inflation pressure remained subdued, the Commerce Department reported Friday. In a suggestion that the frigid winter storms that battered the country in December-February did not completely repress economic activity, consumer spending rose 0.3 percent on an equal gain in incomes. The department cut its previous estimate of January's spending gain from 0.4 percent to 0.2 percent, showing the impact of the harsh weather, while the income gain was the same as January's 0.3 percent.

Japan's consumer prices up 1.3% in Feb. on energy, appliance prices

Japan's consumer prices rose 1.3 percent in February from a year earlier for the ninth straight month of increase, on higher prices of energy as well as televisions and other home appliances, the government said Friday. The core consumer price index, excluding fresh foods, stood at 100.5 against the 2010 base of 100, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said. The 1.3 percent increase followed a 1.3 percent gain in January.

Japan's consumer prices up 1.3% in Feb. on energy, appliance prices

Japan's consumer prices rose 1.3 percent in February from a year earlier for the ninth straight month of increase, on higher prices of energy as well as televisions and other home appliances, the government said Friday. The core consumer price index, excluding fresh foods, stood at 100.5 against the 2010 base of 100, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said. The 1.3 percent increase followed a 1.3 percent gain in January.

New Zealand consumer confidence eases a shade in March: survey

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand consumer confidence was marginally softer in March but consumers remained strongly positive buoyed by the cheery economic outlook despite the prospect of higher interest rates, a survey showed on Friday. The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index dipped to 132~ from 133 in February. The index touched a seven year high in January. A reading above 100 shows optimism, while below indicates pessimism.
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