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Inflation got back on its moderate course last month, thanks to lower food-price increases and declining gasoline and clothing costs. After rising 0.6 percent in January, the consumer price index registered a 0. 4 percent gain in February, the Labor Department reported Friday. This is an annualized rate of 6.1 percent for the first two months of the year. But that pace should ease as the year continues, coming in at about a 4.6 percent rate for all of 1984, says John Hammond, an analyst with McGraw-Hill's Data Resources Inc., a Lexington, Mass., economic research firm. The rate in 1983 was 3.2 percent, but it was 6.2 percent in 1982.
''We'll continue to see moderate inflation for the rest of this year if for no other reason than the dynamics of the recovery,'' Mr. Hammond said. He cited higher productivity and a fairly quiet year in labor negotiations as two reasons for optimism.
The food component of the index, however, may may be pushed back up by rising meat prices later in the year, he said. It rose 0.6 percent in February, compared with 1.6 percent in January.
February's actual consumer price index was 306.6, equivalent to a cost of $ 306.60 for the government's sample market basket of goods and services that cost