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How rising prices for restaurants, car repair and more kept inflation up in the U.S. and Virginia

Held down by sinking gas prices, U.S. inflation was mostly unchanged last month. But underlying price pressures — from apartment rents, restaurant meals, auto insurance and many other services — remained stubbornly high.

Last month’s inflation data arrived just a day before the Federal Reserve will end a two-day policy meeting and announce its latest decisions on interest rates. The Fed is expected on Wednesday to keep its key rate unchanged for the third straight time.

Most economists expect the rate of price increases to keep slowing in the coming months. Though the decline could follow a bumpy path, inflation should fall much closer to the Fed’s 2% target by the end of 2024. Wages and rental prices, among other items, are now increasing more gradually.

In November, much cheaper gas held down overall prices, which rose just 0.1% from October, the government said. Compared with a year ago, inflation dipped to 3.1%, down from a 3.2% year-over-year rise in October.

Prices in the vast service sector, though, still surged uncomfortably fast. Core prices — which exclude volatile food and energy costs and are considered a better guide to the path of inflation — rose 0.3% from October to November, slightly faster than the 0.2% increase the previous month. Measured from a year ago, core prices were up 4%, the same as in October.

Here’s how inflation looks in Virginia.


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