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Inflation in U.S. has risen 8.5% over past year; quickest pace in 40 years

A board on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after the opening bell on January 12. The Labor Department said Tuesday that consumer prices jumped 8.5% in March from a year ago. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/0f4e169f5d59a772b44f3e2092c6b63a/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A board on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after the opening bell on January 12. The Labor Department said Tuesday that consumer prices jumped 8.5% in March from a year ago. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 12 (UPI) -- The Consumer Price Index increased 8.5% in March over the same time last year, as inflation continued to batter the economy after the Federal Reserve last month increased interest rates.

Near record-high gasoline prices along with jumps in the cost of shelter and food sparked the monthly increase of 0.8% in March as compared to the month before. The gasoline index bolted 18.3% in March, accounting for more than half of all items in the monthly increase, according to the Labor Department report.

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The 8.5% 12-month increase was the largest jump over that period since December 1981, according to the Labor Department. The energy index rose 32% from the same time last year, and food jumped 8.8%, its largest rise since May 1981.

In a little ray of sunshine for consumers, gasoline prices have fallen so far in April from their peak that hovered around $4.326 for a gallon of regular gasoline in March, according to the automotive club AAA. The average price of gasoline on Tuesday was $4.098, but still well above the average of $2.863 a year ago.

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The benchmark for core items -- minus food and energy -- rose 0.3% in March from the month before, slowing from the 0.5% increase in February and 6.5% over the last 12 months. The 12-month figure is also the biggest leap for core items since August 1982.

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Because of continuing inflation concerns, the Federal Reserve increased short-term interest rates last month by a quarter-point, from one-quarter to one-half, for the first time since 2018.

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