Higher gas, housing costs lift US consumer prices 0.4 pct.

FILE - In this Thursday, July 16, 2015, file photo, a customer re-fuels her car at a Costco in Robinson Township, Pa. The plunging price of oil in 2016 is dragging stock markets to their worst start to a year ever, even though low fuel prices are great for consumers and most companies. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Higher gas and housing costs boosted U.S. consumer prices 0.4 percent in August, the most in seven months. The increase suggests inflation could be picking up, but the figures may have been distorted by Hurricane Harvey.

The Labor Department says consumer prices climbed 1.9 percent last month compared with a year earlier, up from an annual gain of 1.7 percent in August and the second straight increase. Excluding volatile energy and food costs, prices rose 0.2 percent in August and 1.7 percent from a year earlier.

The government said Harvey had a “very small effect” on its ability to gather data, but would not say whether last month’s gas price increase resulted from the storm. Harvey disrupted oil refineries on the Gulf Coast and pushed up average gas prices nationwide.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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