WASHINGTON — The overall Consumer Price Index rose 0.5% in February to 222.3, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor. With the gain, the index now has increased 2.1% over the past 12 months. The index for food and beverages also finished higher, rising 0.5% to 223.8 in February after rising 0.5% in January and 0.1% in December.

In addition to food and beverages, the energy index again provided strength, as the index for gasoline rose 4.7% and the index for fuel oil increased 5.8% during February.

The food index rose 0.6% in February after climbing 0.5% in January and 0.1% in December, and five of the six major grocery store food groups posted increases for the second consecutive month.

The sharpest gain was posted in the index for fruits and vegetables, which followed a 1.3% increase in January by rising 2.2% in February to 284.6. Fresh vegetables rose 6.7% during the month.

Meats, poultry, fish and eggs also were sharply higher, rising 1.2% to 216.4. The index for meats was up 1.9%.
The dairy and related products index increased 0.6%, as did the index for other food at home.

The index for nonalcoholic beverages, which rose 1.5% in January, advanced 0.2% in February.

The only major index not to rise was cereals and bakery products, which finished flat at 254.

The index for food away from home rose 0.2% in February and has risen 1.6% over the past 12 months.