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Inflation Was In Check Last Month; Jobless Claims Jumped Last Week

Gasoline prices at a station in Encinitas, Calif., earlier this week.
Gasoline prices at a station in Encinitas, Calif., earlier this week.

Consumer prices were flat in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. But a driving force behind that good news has reversed itself since then. According to BLS, gasoline prices fell 3 percent last month. In February, though, gas prices have risen sharply. So watch for next month's BLS report on consumer prices to tell a different story.

Also this morning, the Employment and Training Administration reports that the number of first-time claims for jobless benefits rose by 20,000 last week, to 362,000. The increase was slightly larger than economists expected.

For the most part, the number of weekly claims has stayed within a range of 350,000 to 400,000 since the fall of 2011. They've been another in a series of signs that the U.S. labor market is only slowly recovering from the 2007-09 recession.

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