U.S. consumer prices fell in December, but met market forecasts when energy and food costs were excluded. Consumer prices rose by the largest rate in five years in 2005, reflecting a surge in energy costs.Overall, the consumer Price Index was up 3.4 percent for 2005. This was the largest jump since 2000. Core inflation posted a 2.2 percent rise for all of 2005. Both 2004 and 2005 were heavily influenced by rising energy prices, which increased by 17.1 percent in 2005. Excluding the food and energy sectors, core inflation was up 0.2 percent in December 2005. Since June 2004, the Federal Reserve has been increasing interest rates and it is expected to raise rates again at its January 31 meeting. This would be the 14th increase and will be the final session for current Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Analysts are expecting moderate inflation for 2006, but will heavily depend on energy prices. In 2005, gas prices rose to a record high above $3 per gallon, while crude oil prices reached $70 per barrel. The cost of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange increased $2.39 to $66.31 a barrel on January 17, 2006.