Headline US consumer price inflation (CPI) rose in line with expectations in December, but stripping out volatile measure such as energy and food, the core rate rose at its fastest since last January.
The headline rate, which rose at a softer-than-expected 0.1% monthly rate to an annual pace of 2.1%, was held back in December by a 2.7% fall in petrol prices.
Core CPI rose at a monthly rate of 0.3% in December, beating expectations of a 0.2% rise, while the annual pace of inflation rose to 1.8% from 1.7% in November.
"The outsized core is due to a 1.4% jump in used auto prices - demand rocketed after the hurricanes in the summer, driving up auction prices," said Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
The data were unlikely to have much influence on interest rate expectations, however, as the Federal Reserve prefers to take its measure of price pressures from personal consumption expenditure (PCE) data, published later in the month.
CPI figures have indicated higher levels of inflation all year, with the PCE measure trailing some way behind at 1.5% - well shy of the Fed's target rate of 2%.
Fed action unlikely
It appeared unlikely the Fed would take any action at its first rate setting meeting of the year.
"Any hike in rates will probably not come until March given the last rate hike was only a month ago and we’ve not yet had US GDP figures for the fourth quarter," said Jacob Deppe at online trading platform Infinox.
"US Fed chair Janet Yellen, will also be unwilling to make any dramatic deviations from current policy at her last Fed meeting before she hands over to Jerome Powell."
Retail sales data were also published on Friday and - while not as impressive as the upwardly-revised November figures - remained robust over the December and Christmas period.
Headline retail rose 0.4% month on month in December, following an upwardly-revised 0.9% rise in November. Excluding sales of automobiles, it remained a 0.4% rise, matching expectations and following 1.3% in November, which was revised up from 1%.
"Overall, these numbers are consistent with the very elevated consumer confidence numbers, and they imply that the saving rate, which is already very low, continues to decline," said Shepherson.