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US consumer prices rose 8.5% annually in March, highest since December 1981, bolstering a case for Fed to hike rates at a faster pace.

The widely followed inflation gauge rose 1.2% from a month earlier, the biggest gain since 2005. Gasoline costs drove half of the monthly increase.

Economists in a Bloomberg survey called for the overall CPI to increase 8.4% from a year ago and 1.2% from February.

The March inflation numbers were the first to capture the full surge in gasoline prices that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Moscow’s brutal attacks have triggered far-reaching Western sanctions against the Russian economy and have disrupted global food and energy markets. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gasoline — $4.10 — is up 43% from a year ago, though it has fallen back in the past couple of weeks.

The escalation of energy prices has led to higher transportation costs for the shipment of goods and components across the economy, which, in turn, has contributed to higher prices for consumers.

The latest evidence of accelerating prices will solidify expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates aggressively in the coming months to try to slow borrowing and spending and tame inflation. The financial markets now foresee much steeper rate hikes this year than Fed officials had signaled as recently as last month.

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