Cheaper gas sends US consumer prices down 0.1 pct
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Cheaper gas sends US consumer prices down 0.1 pct

WASHINGTON — Consumer prices slipped 0.1 per cent last month, pulled down by sharply lower gas prices and cheaper air fares, used cars, and mobile phone plans.

The Labor Department said the consumer price index rose just 1.9 per cent in December from a year earlier, the first time it has fallen below 2 per cent since August 2017.

Excluding the volatile energy and food categories, core prices rose 0.2 per cent for the third month in a row. They rose 2.2 per cent from a year ago for the second straight month.

The figures suggest that the healthy economy is not yet creating widespread inflation pressures. That gives the Federal Reserve more leeway in deciding whether to raise interest rates. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said the Fed can be “patient” regarding rate hikes this year.

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press

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