Further sharp increases in food, energy and housing costs pushed the consumer price index up 1.1 percent in September, which translates into an annual inflation rate of 13.2 percent, the government reported yesterday.
The figures dampened White House hopes that inflation might ease soon. President adviser Alfred E. Kahn said he sees "no short-tern relief in sight," and conceded Carter 10.6 percent inflation goal for 1979 is clearly unachievable."
The inflation report came as Citibank, the nation's second largest bank, began another round of increases in the prime leading rate, this time to 15.25 percent. It was the second increase this week; the prime climbed to 15 percent Tuesday.
House Banking Committee Chairman Henry S. Reuss (D-Wis.) warned that interest rates now are "clearly too high," and urged the Federal Reserve Board to enforce its new credit guidelines to protect housing, farms and small business.
Reuss also said his panel will hold hearings Monday to determine why the Federal Reserve Board overestimated the growth in the nation's money supply for the week that ended Oct. 17, and whether that prompted more credit-tightening than intended.
The Fed disclosed Thursday that because of a reporting error by a private bank, it overstimated the growth of the basic money supply by $3.7 billion. The board later tightened credit, inpart to rein in that growth.
The continuing surge in consumer prices cut further into the pruchasing power of American workers. The Labor Department's index of average hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.5 percent, to a level 3.9 percent below a year ago.
White House officials have been saying for wekks that they believe the inflation rate will decline later this year as energy prices level off and mortgage interest rates peak, but in recent days some analysts have become more pessimistic.
"The evidence still points that way, but it's hard to see that in the numbers this time," said a government economist who is close to the price figures. He said relief may be modest and is still several months off.
The report on consumer prices contained these details:
FOOD: Prices surged anew last month after easing most of the summer. Supermarket prices leaped 1.1 percent in September, primarily because fruit prices rebounded. In August, grocery prices fell 0.3 percent.
ENERGY: Prices rose 2.7 percent in September, less than August's hefty 3.2 percent, but still a lot by any measure. Analysts said the bulk of the impact from last June's rise in crude oil prices probably is over.
HOUSING: Costs soared 1.2 percent in September, continuing August's exceptional 1.4 percent rise. Home mortgage interest rates rose again during the month, and prices of new and old homes continued to climb.
OTHERS: The department also reported sharp increases in transportation and apparel prices. Transportation costs jumped 1.2 percent, mostly as a result of higher gasoline prices. The cost of apparel and upkeep leaped 1.3 percent.
In a companion report, the Bureau of labor Statistics said gasoline prices rose an average 3.1 percent across the nation in September, bringing the total increase for the year to 31.3 cents a gallon.
At the same time, the average price of home heating oil in the United Sates jumped 4.8 cents a gallon in September to 84.8 cents. So far this year, prices of home heating oil have increased 30.3 cents a gallon.
Reuss' remarks yesterday constituted the first sign of serious criticism of the Fed's new credit-tightening moves from any quarter of Congress. With a few exceptions, lawmakers have remained relatively silent on the issue.
Ress proposed yesterday a series of steps to push interest rates back down, including allowing faster growth of the nation's money supply and establishing more liberal bank reserve requirements for certain types of loans.
He also proposed that Fed Chairman Paul A. Volcker back up his recent letter to bankers, which urged them to continue making loans for housing, agriculture and small business, by varying Fed treatment of banks that do not comply.
There was no immediate indication whether the Fed would adopt any of Reuss' suggestions, but the Banking Committee chairman offered to back them up with legislation if necessary.
And Reuss told reporters later he plans to "make a campaign" of pressing the Fed to reduce interest rates. He asserted that today's high interest rates are "a real threat" to the health of the economy.
The rebound in food prices last month reflected several new factors -- shortages of oranges and apples because of seasonal problems and crop damage, tightening of beef supplies and a rise in egg prices.
Food prices had declined during most of the summer as beef supplies increased and yields in many fruit and vegetable crops rose sharply, but apparently that decline has turned around.
Yesterday's report left the overall consumer price index at 223.4 percent of its 1967 average. That means it took $223.40 to buy the same goods and services last month that cost $100 a dozen years ago.