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CONSUMER PRICES CREEP UP

Consumer prices -- stoked by more expensive gasoline as well as pricier fruits and vegetables -- heated up in October, rising by 0.6 percent, the biggest gain in five months.

The newest snapshot of the inflation climate, released by the Labor Department today, bolstered the chances that the Federal Reserve would push up interest rates for a fifth time this year on Dec. 14.

The sizable increase in the Consumer Price Index, the government's most closely watched inflation barometer, came after prices rose by 0.2 percent in September.

Sharp increases in energy and food prices were the main culprits behind the acceleration in consumer prices for October.

Excluding energy and food prices, which can swing widely from month to month, "core" prices increased by a more modest 0.2 percent in October, following a 0.3 percent rise the previous month.