ECONOMY

US consumer prices unchanged in October as gasoline pump prices fall for fourth month

In this Oct. 28, 2014 photo, customers shop at the Century 21 Department Store in Philadelphia. The Labor Department reports on October consumer prices on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Oct. 28, 2014 photo, customers shop at the Century 21 Department Store in Philadelphia. The Labor Department reports on October consumer prices on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in October as a fourth straight decline in gasoline costs helped to keep inflation at bay.

The Commerce Department says the steady reading for inflation last month followed a tiny 0.1 percent increase in September and a 0.2 percent drop in August. Energy prices fell 1.9 percent last month while food costs edged up a slim 0.1 percent.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food, rose 0.2 percent in October. For the past 12 months, overall inflation is up 1.7 percent while core inflation is up a similarly modest 1.8 percent.

Both gains are well below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent inflation target, giving the central bank leeway to keep interest rates low to boost the economy without worrying about inflation.