Consumer prices jump 0.8% in April as worries escalate

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer prices surged 0.8% in April, pushing the rise in inflation over the past year to the fastest rate in more than a decade, an acceleration that has stirred rising worries about its effect on the economy.

The Labor Department reported today that the price consumers pay for their purchases of everything from food and clothes to new cars rose at a faster pace than last month’s 0.6% rise.

Over the past 12 months, prices are up 4.2% — the fastest rise since a 4.9% gain in the 12 months ending in September 2008.

Excluding volatile food and energy, core inflation jumped 0.9% in April. Core prices are up a sharp 3% over the past 12 months.

Concerns about rising inflation sent stocks tumbling on Tuesday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by more than 470 points or 1.4%, its worst day since Feb. 26.

The big April increase was led by a record 10% surge in the price for used cars and trucks.