Consumer Prices Drop 0.3 Percent on Cheap Gas in Biggest Slide in 2 Years

Consumer prices fell in March by the largest amount in more than two years, pushed lower by another sharp decline in the price of gasoline and other energy products.

Consumer prices dropped 0.3 percent in March following a tiny 0.1 percent rise in February, the Labor Department reported Friday. It was the first monthly decline in 13 months and the biggest drop since prices fell 0.6 percent in January 2015. In addition to a big 6.2 percent fall in gasoline prices, the cost of cell phone plans, new and used cars and clothing were all lower last month.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy, dropped 0.1 percent last month. Over the past 12 months, inflation is up a moderate 2.4 percent while core prices have risen 2 percent.

The Federal Reserve seeks to manage the economy to produce annual increases in inflation around 2 percent. But since the

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