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Reports: US Inflation Rises Modestly, Housing Starts Fall

A Labor Department Tuesday says U.S. wholesale prices jumped five-tenths of a percent in March, pushed upward by rising gasoline costs.

Economists set aside volatile energy and food prices to gauge inflation in the rest of the economy. By that measure, the so-called "core" inflation rate was up a modest one-tenth of a percent.

Analysts say strong price competition among businesses makes companies reluctant to pass rising costs along to customers.

Wednesday, we will get a look at inflation at the consumer level when the government publishes the consumer price index. Some analysts predict it will be up about four-tenths of a percent for the month.

A separate government report Tuesday showed further evidence that the U.S. housing market is cooling off as interest rates rise. The number of new homes started in March fell nearly eight percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.