Consumer Price Index rises narrowly in March

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The overall Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% to 217.7 in March, and over the past 12 months has climbed 2.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor. The index for food and beverages also finished higher, rising to 219.3 in March from 218.8 in February.

The B.L.S. said the increase in the all items index primarily reflected a sharp increase in the fresh fruits and vegetables index, which accounted for more than 60% of the all items increase during March.

The food index rose 0.2% in March after climbing 0.1% in February. Among the major grocery store food groups, the sharpest gain was posted in the index for fresh fruits and vegetables, which rose 3.4% to 281.8. The gain comes on the heels of a 0.1% decline in February.

Other grocery store food groups registered only small changes in March, as the meats, poultry, fish, and eggs index rose 0.2% to 202.8, while the indexes for dairy and related products and for nonalcoholic beverages were unchanged.

The index for cereals and bakery products fell 0.1% during March to 250.9, and the index for other food at home fell 0.2% to 190.8.

The food at home index followed up a 0.1% gain in February by rising 0.5% in March to 215.6. The gain marked the sharpest increase in the category since September 2008, the B.L.S. said.

The index for food away from home, which had increased every month since January 2003, was unchanged in March, the B.L.S. said.

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