Despite declining energy prices last month, US inflation in July remained at its highest annual rate level since 2012, the country's Labor Department has reported.

The impact of President Donald Trump trade wars with major US trading partners was evident in rising prices for goods like washing machines and newsprint.

Food ticked up compared to June, while gasoline prices at the pump fell, but a big jump in vehicle and fuel oil prices pushed the monthly consumer price index up 0.2%, which was in line with expectations.

But for the 12 months ended in July, CPI was 2.9% higher than the prior year, keeping to the rate sent in June that was the highest in six years. 

However, excluding volatile food and energy components, the "core" CPI was up 2.4%, just above the Federal Reserve's two percent goal.

"There may have been no dramatic surprises in this week's inflation data but the upward creep in underlying inflation pressures - though gradual - is unmistakable," RDQ Economics said in a research note.

Despite the decline last month, gasoline prices are up 25% compared to July 2017, while fuel oil is up 35%, according to the report.

After imposing steep tariffs on aluminum and steel, as well as duties on tens of billions of dollars in imports from China, prices for appliances jumped 3.5% in the latest month and 8.5% compared to July 2017.

Used vehicles prices rose 2.3% in the month.

The Federal Reserve keeps a close eye on price pressures, although it focuses on a different inflation measure, which has finally hit the desired level.

The central bank is expected to raise benchmark lending rates twice more this year to keep inflation from accelerating.