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

The average price of regular gas has fallen more than 40 cents from a year ago.

AFP/Mario LaPorta

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AFP/Mario LaPorta

The average price of regular gas has fallen more than 40 cents from a year ago.

AFP/Mario LaPorta

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.

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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.

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