US consumer prices flat in January

FILE- This Feb. 7, 2019, file photo shows the bread section of a Safeway store in Tacoma, Wash. On Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, the Labor Department repo

FILE- This Feb. 7, 2019, file photo shows the bread section of a Safeway store in Tacoma, Wash. On Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, the Labor Department repo

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer prices were unchanged in January, as lower gasoline prices offset the rising costs of housing, clothing and medical care.

The Labor Department said the consumer price index rose only 1.6 percent last month from a year earlier.

Inflation has been tempered by a 10.1 percent plunge over the past 12 months in prices at the gas pump. But housing expenses — the dominant part of the index — have risen 3.2 percent.

Excluding the volatile energy and food categories, core prices increased 0.2 percent for the fifth month in a row. For the third straight month, core prices were up 2.2 percent from a year ago.

The relatively modest level of inflation suggests that recent wage gains have not spurred higher inflation.