The U.S. consumer price index rose 0.5% in February from the month before, pushed higher by food and energy costs. The price index for all items climbed 2.1% over the past year.
But many think government-reported inflation numbers don't present an accurate price picture. Some economists estimate the true rate of inflation is closer to 8% or 9%. And those numbers could rise higher as the U.S. Federal Reserve continues to pump billions of dollars into the financial system.
Inflation, coupled with political turmoil in the Middle East, has pushed many investors out of stocks and into commodities. Gold rose to a record $1,445.70 an ounce on March 7. Market uncertainty from the Japan disaster pushed the metal down to $1,380.70 on March 15, but it gained again this week to hover around $1,400 an ounce.