Cheaper gas lowers US consumer prices 0.3 percent
Shoppers may face further increases soon. Wholesale food costs jumped 1.3 percent last month, according to a separate report Thursday, the most in nearly two years.
Beef prices jumped the most in 4½ years, and vegetable costs also rose sharply. Grocery stores may pass on some of those costs to consumers in the coming months.
With inflation in check, the Fed said Wednesday that it now plans to keep the short-term interest rate it controls at nearly zero until the unemployment rate falls to at least 6.5 percent, as long as inflation isn't expected to top 2.5 percent in the next two years.
It was the clearest sign yet that they will keep rates super-low even after unemployment falls further and the economy picks up.
Unemployment was 7.7 percent last month and the Fed projects it will stay above 6.5 percent until late 2015. The Fed also projects inflation will stay at or below 2 percent for the next three years.
The Fed also said it would continue purchasing $85 billion in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities each month in an effort to push down longer-term interest rates.
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