By Kevin Lessmiller
(CN) – Marking the first decrease in nine months, the Labor Department said Friday consumer prices dropped 0.1 percent in December largely because of plummeting gas prices.
The figures suggest inflation pressures are being kept in check, which is in line with economists’ expectations. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has said the central bank can be “patient” with raising interest rates this year.
The 0.1 percent CPI decline in December is the first drop since last March. The index has risen 1.9 percent since a year ago, the first time its 12-month reading has been under 2 percent since August 2017.
Not counting food and energy, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent for the third straight month. Prices for lodging, recreation, medical care and household furnishings were all up in December, while air fare, used vehicles and car insurance were cheaper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.