Consumer prices down 0.3 percent in March

U.S. Gasoline prices nationwide have dropped 24 cents per gallon since the start of June on ample oil supplies worldwide.

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.

The Labor Department says consumer prices dropped 0.3 percent in March following a tiny 0.1 percent rise in February. 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.

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

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