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Reports: US Consumer Outlook Improves, Inflation Rises

FILE - Shoppers in Brea Mall in Brea, California.

Reports published Friday show U.S. consumers becoming more optimistic, while inflation rose a bit from very low levels.

The U.S. Labor Department said Friday that prices paid to businesses for goods and services rose last month from April, making their largest gain in nearly three years

Meanwhile, data from University of Michigan's surveys of consumers show they were encouraged by the improving outlook for jobs and lower gasoline prices.

Those energy prices have been bouncing upward a bit recently, and that helped the Labor Department's measure of inflation at the wholesales level rise half of one percent, which is the fastest pace in nearly three years. Outside the volatile areas of food and energy inflation rose just six-tenths of a percent over the past year.

Chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, Ian Shepherdson, said “underlying price pressures at the producer level, at least for goods, are very low, thanks to slow wage gains, weak materials prices and the strong dollar.”

The reports are part of the data that top officials of the U.S. central bank will consider next week as they debate how soon and how much to raise the key interest rate.

Economists at the PNC Bank say today's modest amount of inflation is one of the reasons that the Federal Reserve are not likely to raise interest rates until September.