U.S. consumer prices roseslightly in March, as lower gasoline costs helped offset higher prices for food and
clothing, the government reported Tuesday, indicating that inflation pressuresremain generally tame.The Labor Department said its consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.2 percent lastmonth after rising 0.1 percent in both February and January. Over the past 12months, consumer prices have risen only 1.5 percent, well below the 2 percentFederal Reserve (Fed) target for inflation.Food prices rose 0.4 percent after rising by the same amount in February. A droughtin the western United States has elevated prices for meat, dairy, fruit, andvegetables. Gasoline prices plunged 1.7 percent in March, lowering costs for theentire energy category. It was the third consecutive month of gasoline pricedeclines.Core CPI, which excludes volatile energy and food costs, also rose 0.2 percent inMarch after increasing 0.1 percent the previous month. In the 12 months ending inMarch, core CPI advanced 1.7 percent, also below the 2 percent Fed target.