US inflation eases in February

Americans have fretted month after month about rising prices, worrying about what is happening to their money. Some started the week wondering if their savings were safe. Now, they will be relieved to learn the pressures on their finances are easing.

Officials with the Labor Department track the average price of goods and services. They said on Tuesday that the consumer price index rose by 6 percent in February over a year earlier. Lower prices of oil and gas helped drive down the number for the eighth straight month.

Policymakers at the Federal Reserve have tried to lower inflation by repeatedly raising interest rates. Chair Jerome Powell, testifying in front of the Senate Banking Committee on March 7, said they may have to take "larger steps" even though the way ahead is likely to be "bumpy."

Some analysts say the Fed's efforts are causing pain elsewhere. They say rising interest rates contributed to the failure of two banks over the weekend. Silicon Valley Bank, based in California, and Signature Bank, based in New York, were midsize regional institutions vulnerable to higher rates.

President Joe Biden said in a statement released on Tuesday that there will be setbacks along the way to steady and stable growth. However, he pointed to employment figures that are as strong as they have been in decades. He added that Americans face their challenges "from a position of strength."