WASHINGTON — Lower U.S. gasoline prices kept consumer inflation in check last month, helping to offset higher costs for food and clothing.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in March, after scant 0.1 percent increases in the previous two months. Prices have risen just 1.5 percent year over year. That remains well below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target for inflation.
Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices rose 0.2 percent in March and 1.7 percent in the past year. Gas prices fell 1.7 percent in March, but food prices rose 0.4 percent, led by eggs, milk, oranges, ground beef and poultry.