WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer prices were unchanged last month, the latest sign that inflation remains tame. Lower gas prices offset rising costs for food, medical care and housing.
The Labor Department says the consumer price index was flat in December for the second straight month. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, so-called "core" prices rose 0.1 percent.
Inflation appears to be peaking after rising steeply last year. Prices rose 3 percent in 2011, up from a 1.5 percent pace in 2010 and the most since 2007. But that's down from the 12-month increase of 3.9 percent in September.
Lower inflation gives consumers more spending power, which boosts growth. It also gives the Federal Reserve more leeway to keep interest rates low and take other steps to boost the economy.