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WASHINGTON - Fueled by more expensive energy and food costs, consumer prices registered their largest increase in more than three years last month, according to the Labor Department.
The Consumer Price Index, the government's most closely monitored inflation benchmark, shot up by 0.6 percent last month, following a 0.2 percent rise in April.
The increase posted in May was slightly larger than the 0.5 percent advance that some economists were expecting, and represented the largest gain since January 2001.
Energy prices rose by the largest amount since the beginning of this year, while food costs experienced the biggest increase in more than 14 years.
The "core" rate of inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, rose by only 0.2 percent in May -- matching economists' forecasts, according to the Labor Department.