WASHINGTON: US consumer inflation cooled more than expected last month, according to government data published Tuesday, providing some welcome news for policymakers looking to control price increases without damaging the economy.

The consumer price index (CPI) inflation gauge increased by 3.2 percent in the 12 months to October, down from 3.7 percent a month earlier, the Labor Department said in a statement.

Inflation was unchanged month-over-month in October from September, with a sharp monthly decline noted in energy prices.

Ministry of Finance projects inflation at 27%-29% for October

Both the annual and monthly figures came in below the median expectations of economists surveyed by MarketWatch.

While the decline in the gasoline index was responsible for the slowdown in prices, it was partially offset by a continued increase in the index for shelter, the Labor Department said.

While easing inflation is good news for consumers, the current rate of inflation as measured by a range of gauges remains stuck firmly above the Federal Reserve’s long-term target of two percent.

The US central bank recently held its key lending rate at a 22-year high for a second consecutive meeting, leading some analysts and traders to predict it was done tightening monetary policy.

But since then, a number of policymakers, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell, have indicated that they are prepared to hike rates again, if necessary, to bring price increases firmly down to target.

Stripping out volatile food and energy segments, so-called “core inflation” cooled to 4.0 percent last month, the smallest 12-month change since the period ending September 2021, the Labor Department said.

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