Stable Consumer Prices May Not Prevent Interest-Rate Hike

WASHINGTON (AP) -

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in November, as declines in energy and food costs offset increases in airline fares and medical care.

The Labor Department says the flat reading for consumer prices last month followed a modest 0.2 percent increase in October and outright declines in August and September. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, was up 0.2 percent in November.

Over the past year, overall inflation has risen 0.5 percent while core inflation is up 2 percent. These 12-month gains, while modest, are still faster than those of the previous year, a fact that could be used by the Federal Reserve to justify the first interest rate hike in nearly a decade.