WASHINGTON (AP) - Higher energy prices were part of the story with the surge in the December Consumer Price Index. The Labor Department says the gauge of inflation at the retail level rose five-tenths of one percent. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the index was up a modest two-tenths of one percent. Oil and gasoline prices have been retreating more recently. For all of 2006, consumer prices rose two and a-half percent. That's the best showing in three yeras.