WASHINGTON -- Consumer prices unexpectedly dipped last month, the first decline since the spring, driven by lower gasoline costs, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
The Consumer Price Index fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in October from the previous month. The index had risen 0.2% in September and economists projected it would be unchanged last month.
The index had not dropped since a 0.4% decline in April.
Over the previous year, prices were up just 1%. That was the smallest 12-month increase since October 2009, the Commerce Department said.
Lower costs at the gas pump were the main factor in October's decline. Gas prices were down 2.9%, the biggest drop since April. The decline offset a 0.1% increase in in food prices.
Excluding volatile energy and food, consumer prices rose 0.1% in October, the same as the previous two months.
Over the prior 12 months, the so-called core price index was up 1.7%. The figure is below the Federal Reserve's annual inflation target of 2%.
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