WASHINGTON (AP) - Consumer prices rose slightly last month, driven up by higher costs for gasoline and food. But excluding those volatile categories, prices were flat.
The Labor Department says the Consumer Price Index rose by 0.1 percent in September, after a 0.3 percent rise in August. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected a larger increase.
Outside of food and energy, core consumer prices were unchanged for the second straight month. And in the past 12 months, core prices rose by only 0.8 percent, the smallest yearly gain in more than 49 years.
The sluggish economy is keeping a lid on prices. Consumers are holding back on spending, with unemployment high and wages stagnant. That makes it difficult for retailers to pass on any price increases.