Prices still rising well above Fed target...

The numbers:  Consumer prices matched the biggest increase in February in five months, leaving the yearly rate of inflation above 3% a week before the Federal Reserve meets again to consider when to cut interest rates.

The consumer price index climbed 0.4% last month largely because of higher gas prices and housing costs.

It was the largest increase since last September.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.4% advance.

The rate of increase in the last 12 months in the CPI, the nation’s most best-known price gauge, edged up to 3.2% from 3.1%.

The more closely followed core rate that omits food and energy also rose 0.4% on the month. That was a tick above forecast.

The 12-month core rate slipped to 3.8% from 3.9%. The core CPI is seen as better predictor of future price trends.

Big picture:  Senior Fed officials have said they want more convincing proof inflation is slowing toward their 2% annual target before they start to cut interest rates. The February report didn't provide it.

The February report could sway Fed officials to put off any decision until the summer, but for now Wall Street is eyeing June as the likely start of a rate-reduction cycle.

The central bank jacked up the cost of borrowing to a 23-year high in 2022 and 2023 to try to slow the economy and take the air out of inflation. Although inflation has slowed considerably from a 40-year high a few years ago, prices are still rising too fast for the Fed’s comfort.