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May after an even bigger 0.6 percent rise in April. Gasoline prices jumped by 4.9 percent and have been soaring this year at an annual rate of 69.4 percent so far this year as motorists contend with pump prices above $3 per gallon in many parts of the country.

Excluding energy and food, core inflation rose by a larger-than-expected 0.3 percent. That increase was certain to get attention at the Federal Reserve , where Chairman Ben Bernanke last week called a recent uptick in core inflation rates unwelcome.