The Labor Department reported Wednesday that the small advance in its Consumer Price Index, the most closely watched inflation gauge, followed a modest 0.4 percent rise in September. It was the smallest increase since June, when consumer prices were unchanged, and was in line with most analysts' expectations.
So far this year, consumer prices have been rising at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in 1998, but all of the acceleration has reflected higher energy costs.
Outside the volatile food and energy sectors, prices were up by 0.2 percent leaving the "core" rate of inflation rising at a much more moderate 1.9 percent so far this year. The monthly gain in the core rate matched many analysts' forecasts.