8:40am

Thu March 17, 2011
The Two-Way

Consumer Prices Rose 0.5 Percent Last Month; Jobless Claims Fell Last Week

Rising gasoline costs were largely responsible for a 0.5 percent increase in consumer prices last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported. Also to blame: higher food costs. The 0.5 percent rise is the sharpest uptick since June 2009, The Associated Press says.

In this hour's other major economic report, the Employment and Training Administration just said that the number of people filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell by 16,000 last week, to 385,000. It's the third such decline in the past four weeks, AP notes.

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. More On Inflation, And The Market Likes What It Heard:

Bloomberg News notes that "while bigger grocery and fuel bills ... strain household budgets, Federal Reserve policy makers this week said the upward pressure on inflation is expected to be 'transitory.' " The Wall Street Journal adds that "underlying inflation remained tame, giving the Federal Reserve scope to keep its easy-money policies in place for now."

Meanwhile, the Fed reported this morning that output at U.S. factories rose 0.4 percent last month.

And all the economic news today has combined to help push up stock prices on Wall Street. At this moment, the Dow Jones industrial average is up about 150 points, or 1.25 percent.

Update at 10:15 a.m. ET: The Conference Board, a private research group, reports that its index of leading indicators went up 0.8 percent last month from January. It's the eighth straight month that the gauge of how the economy should be doing in coming months has risen. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.