U.S. consumer inflation in March continued to rise at the fastest annual pace in four decades, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Tuesday.
The latest data is another reminder that inflation has been persistently high, which would warrant the U.S. Federal Reserve's more aggressive rate hikes on its upcoming policy meetings.
The consumer price index (CPI) last month rose 1.2 percent from the previous month after increasing 0.8 percent in February, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The March CPI surged 8.5 percent from a year earlier, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981. That compared with a 7.9 percent year-on-year gain in February, the report showed.
The so-called core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3 percent in March following a 0.5-percent growth the prior month. Core CPI jumped 6.5 percent over the last 12 months, after climbing 6.4 percent in February.
The report noted that increases in the indexes for gasoline, shelter (the service that housing units provide their occupants), and food were the largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all items increase.
The gasoline index rose 18.3 percent in March and accounted for over half of the all items monthly increase. The food index rose 1.0 percent.
U.S. Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard recently said it is "of paramount importance" to get inflation down, noting that the central bank is "prepared to take stronger action" if inflation indicators show such action is warranted.
According to the minutes of the Fed's March policy meeting released last week, many participants noted that one or more 50 basis point increases in the target range could be appropriate at future meetings, particularly if inflation pressures remained elevated or intensified.
The central bank could begin reducing the size of its balance sheet as soon as May, with officials signaling their support for a monthly caps of 95 billion U.S. dollars, a much faster pace of decline in securities holdings than over the 2017-19 period.