Cheaper Gas, Wireless Plans Keep Inflation Under Control

Lower costs for gas, airline tickets, new and used cars and wireless mobile phone plans kept U.S. consumer prices flat in June, evidence that inflation remains muted.

The unchanged reading followed a drop of 0.1 percent in May, the Labor Department said Friday. Inflation has climbed just 1.6 percent from a year ago. That’s down sharply from February, when prices rose 2.7 percent from a year earlier.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, prices rose 0.1 percent in June and 1.7 percent from a year earlier.

As inflation has slowed, the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates once more this year and three times next year have come under greater scrutiny. The Fed typically hikes rates to ward off rising inflation, yet price gains have declined this year.

Fed policymakers have lifted their benchmark short-term rate four times in the past 18 months.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

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