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US consumer prices tick up just 0.1 per cent last month despite big gain in energy costs

In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, photo, a shopper looks in the window of an ALDO store in the Mall in Robinson Township, Pa. The Labor Department reports on U.S. consumer prices in January on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, photo, a shopper looks in the window of an ALDO store in the Mall in Robinson Township, Pa. The Labor Department reports on U.S. consumer prices in January on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

WASHINGTON - U.S. consumer prices barely rose last month as a sharp rise in energy costs was offset by cheaper clothing, cars and air fares. The figures suggest inflation remains mild.

The Labor Department says the consumer price index rose just 0.1 per cent in January, down from 0.2 per cent in December. Prices have risen 1.6 per cent in the past 12 months. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices also rose 0.1 per cent last month and 1.6 per cent in the past year.

Still, cold weather pushed up the cost of gas, electricity and other home energy by the most in more than five years.

Yet other items fell or barely rose: Food prices increased just 0.1 per cent, and the cost of men's clothing fell by the most in nearly five years.

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