By Amara Omeokwe 

WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer prices rose in July on higher costs for a range of products and services, a sign of firming inflation as demand for goods rebounded following steep declines earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

The consumer-price index -- which measures what consumers pay for everyday items including groceries, medical care and electricity -- climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in July, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The rise was the second in as many months. The index also rose 0.6% in June, which was seen as a potential turning point for consumer prices, following declines in March, April and May amid the pandemic's initial economic fallout.

Excluding the often-volatile categories of food and energy, so-called core prices rose 0.6%, compared with a 0.2% increase in June, posting its largest month-to-month increase since January 1991.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.3% increase for the overall consumer-price index, and a 0.2% gain for the core index.

Roughly a quarter of the July increase was due to gasoline prices, the Labor Department said, which were up 5.6%. Prices for apparel and used vehicles also rose sharply. Notably, prices for food fell 0.4%, with grocery costs declining 1.1%, following significant increases earlier in the pandemic as Americans stayed at home.

The advance in overall consumer prices during July came despite a month when the U.S. saw a resurgence in coronavirus cases, which forced some states to put new restrictions in place aimed at containing the virus. Some states reimposed social distancing measures and business closures as a result.

The rise in consumer prices last month aligns with an increase in the producer-price index, a measure of the prices businesses receive for their goods and services. That index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in July, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, the largest monthly rise since October 2018.

Write to Amara Omeokwe at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 12, 2020 09:07 ET (13:07 GMT)

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