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A gauge of underlying U.S. inflation was below estimates in September as used-vehicle costs fell and housing rents cooled, signaling that price gains may remain close to where Federal Reserve policy makers want them amid an outlook for continued gradual interest-rate hikes.

Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the core consumer price index rose 2.2% in September from a year earlier, the same pace as in August and less than the 2.3% median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The broader CPI slowed to a 2.3% annual gain, the least since February, compared with forecasts for 2.4%.

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