msnbc.com news services
updated 12/15/2010 10:18:16 AM ET 2010-12-15T15:18:16

U.S. consumer prices ticked up by 0.1 percent in November, according to the latest reading of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the U.S. Labor Department.

The number was roughly in line with expectations. Economists in a Reuters survey had expected a 0.2 percent rise for November — a repeat of the October increase.

In the past year, prices have moved up 1.2 percent. Outside volatile food and energy prices, core consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in November, the first increase in four months.

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The CPI report shows a sluggish economy is keeping a lid on costs. Consumers, facing high unemployment and slow wage growth, are restraining their spending. Retailers and other companies don't want to risk losing frugal shoppers by raising prices.

The report also provides support for the Federal Reserve's recent moves to boost the economy. The central bank is buying $600 billion in Treasury bonds in an effort to lower interest rates and spur more borrowing and spending.

Separately, a report Wednesday showed U.S. factory output grew for the fifth straight month in November, adding to evidence that manufacturing remains an engine of economic growth.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that output by the nation's factories, utilities and mines increased 0.4 percent last month, after falling 0.2 percent in October.

Factories produced 0.3 percent more goods for consumers and businesses, after boosting output by the same amount a month earlier. The strongest factory gains came from big-ticket items expected to last for several years.

Also, a gauge of manufacturing in New York State rebounded in December after falling sharply in the prior month, led by growth in new orders and shipments, the New York Federal Reserve said in a report.

The New York Fed's "Empire State" general business conditions index climbed 22 points to 10.57 in December from -11.14 in November. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 5.0 for December.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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