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As gasoline prices fall, U.S. inflation cools to 3.2%

A customer replaces the pump dispenser at a Chevron gas station in Columbus, Miss., on Oct. 23. The average price of regular gas has fallen more than 40 cents from a year ago.
Rogelio V. Solis
/
AP
A customer replaces the pump dispenser at a Chevron gas station in Columbus, Miss., on Oct. 23. The average price of regular gas has fallen more than 40 cents from a year ago.

Inflation cooled last month as falling gasoline prices helped to offset rising rents.

Consumer prices in October were up 3.2% from a year ago, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. That's a smaller annual increase than the month before when inflation clocked in at 3.7%.

Prices were unchanged between September and October. Gasoline prices tumbled 5% during the month, which helped to keep overall inflation in check.

AAA reports the average price of regular gas nationwide is now $3.35 a gallon — down more than 40 cents from a year ago. There are nearly a dozen states where the average price is now under $3 a gallon.

Rent continues to rise

The cost of rent, auto insurance and medical care rose in October, while the prices of airline tickets, hotel rooms and used cars were down.

So-called "core inflation," which excludes volatile food and energy prices and is considered a better measure of longer-term trends was 4.0% in October — down from 4.1% the month before. Core prices rose 0.2% between September and October compared to 0.3% the month before.

The lower-than-expected inflation reading is likely to reassure investors that the Federal Reserve will not feel the need to raise interest rates again at its next meeting in December.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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