U.S. consumer prices were flat in February from the previous month as higher car prices were offset by lower energy costs, leaving scope for the Federal Reserve to keep supporting the economy with record-low interest rates.
Separately, the number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell slightly last week for the third consecutive time.
Meanwhile, the U.S. current account deficit expanded in the fourth quarter to its highest level in a year, as rebounding economic activity resulted in higher imports of oil and other goods.
The seasonally-adjusted consumer price index was unchanged last month, the Labor Department said Thursday, after increasing an unrevised 0.2% in January. The last time inflation looked so tame was in March 2009, when consumer prices fell by 0.1%.
Core consumer prices, which strip out volatile energy and food items and are more closely watched by the Fed, were up by a monthly 0.1% in February. In January, core prices fell by 0.1%.
The Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 to 457,000 in the week ended Mar. 13. The previous week’s level was left unrevised at 462,000.