(Bloomberg) -- A measure of US inflation flagged by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as perhaps the “most important” guide to the outlook posted a slowdown last month, according to Commerce Department data published Thursday.

Prices of services excluding housing and energy services rose 0.3% in October, the smallest increase in three months, and down from a 0.5% jump in September. 

“This spending category covers a wide range of services from health care and education to haircuts and hospitality. This is the largest of our three categories, constituting more than half of the core PCE index,” Powell said Wednesday in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“Thus, this may be the most important category for understanding the future evolution of core inflation.”

A broader gauge of inflation -- the widely tracked “core” metric which includes goods, services and housing but excludes food and energy items -- advanced by 0.2%, less than the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

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