Jan. 18, 2007 -- Driven by higher gas prices, overall consumer prices rose 0.5 percent in December, the first increase in four months, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Core consumer prices, excluding a 4.6 percent increase in energy prices, rose by a three-month high of 0.2 percent, the report said.

Declining energy costs had kept core prices flat over much the fourth quarter.

In the 12 months ending in December, core prices rose 2.6 percent, compared to 2.2 percent in 2005, the report said. Overall consumer prices rose 2.5 percent in 2006, the lowest since a 1.9 percent gain in 2003, the report said.

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