Consumer Prices Flat in September

WASHINGTON - Consumer prices were flat in September as retreating costs for gasoline, clothes and new cars helped to offset rising prices for food, medical care and other things.

The new reading on the Consumer Price Index, the government's most closely watched inflation barometer, came after prices actually dipped by 0.1 percent in August, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Those two months, however, had offered Americans a rare reprieve. Consumer prices have marched upward most of the year, spiking by an eye popping 1.1 percent in June.

The toll of galloping prices for much of this year is eating into paychecks, further straining consumers who are pulling back sharply. Recent readings on retail sales were grim. The prospects that consumers will retrench further would spell more trouble for the already ailing economy.

Stripping out energy and food products, "core" prices inched up by just 0.1 percent in September, an improvement from a 0.2 percent advance in August.

The latest showing on inflation was better than economists expected. They were forecasting a 0.1 percent increase in overall prices and a 0.2 percent rise minus energy and food.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government reports that consumer prices were flat in September. Retreating costs for gasoline, clothes and new cars helped to offset rising prices for food, medical care and other things.

The Labor Department report, released Thursday, says the flat reading on the Consumer Price Index, the government's most closely watched inflation barometer, came after prices actually dipped by 0.1 percent in August.


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