People are seen walking through Roosevelt Field shopping mall in Garden City, New York February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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U.S. inflation barely rose in March as consumer spending remained tepid, making it less likely that the Federal Reserve will be able to follow through on its projected two interest rate hikes this year.So-called core PCE rose 1.6 percent in the 12 months through March, after advancing 1.7 percent in February.Fed policymakers earlier this year forecast two more rate hikes for 2016 .In a separate report, the Labor Department said its Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of labor costs, increased 0.6 percent in the first quarter after gaining 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Labor costs rose 1.9 percent in the 12 months through March, well below the 3 percent threshold that economists say is needed to bring inflation closer to the Fed's inflation target. When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending was unchanged after increasing 0.3 percent in February.
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