WASHINGTON: Consumer prices were unchanged in July, as lower energy prices offset gains in the cost of food and other items, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
An index of energy prices declined 0.3 percent in July, while the food index rose 0.1 percent. The core consumer price index, which excludes the volatile categories of food and energy, rose 0.1 percent.
In June overall consumer prices were also unchanged, while the core gauge rose 0.2 percent.
The CPI rose 1.4 percent in the 12 months through July, the smallest change since late 2010. The core rate gained 2.1 percent in the past 12 months, the smallest gain since late 2011.
The Federal Reserve, which watches consumer prices, is expecting inflation to be relatively low through 2013.
Although there have been recent gains in food commodity prices due to the severe Midwest drought, analysts say consumer prices may not be affected for months. But at the wholesale level, corn prices rose about 35 percent in July, according to a Tuesday report from the Labor Department.
Within the CPI’s food index, food-at-home prices were unchanged in July, as prices increased 0.3 percent for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, and declined 0.3 percent for fruits and vegetables.
Within the energy index, gasoline prices rose 0.3 percent. Meanwhile, electricity prices fell 1.3 percent, the largest drop since 1998.
Also in July, prices rose for apparel, medical care and shelter. Tobacco prices rose 1.1 percent.