The U.S. Labor Department reported this morning (May 15) that consumer prices rose 0.4% in April, boosted by strong gains in energy and food prices. The rise was considered by analysts within the 'comfort level' of the Federal Reserve, which is keeping a wary eye out for signs of inflation.

The index for energy increased 2.4% after advancing 5.9% in March. The index for petroleum-based energy rose 4.6% versus a 10.1% increase in March. The index for energy has advanced at an astounding 25.3% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first four months of 2007 compared with 2.9% in 2006.Petroleum-based energy costs increased at a 40.0% annual rate and charges for energy services rose at a 9.4 percent annual rate.

The food index rose 0.4%, slightly more than in March. The food index has increased at a 6.7% seasonally adjusted annual rate thus far this year, following a 2.1 percent rise for all of 2006.

The index for housing rose 0.2% in April, the same as in March.