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News Summary: Food, gas costs drop in December

The Associated Press

In this Nov. 20, 2012 photo, fish brought to the dock at the Viking Village fishery in Barnegat Light N.J., sit atop a box of ice. U.S. wholesale prices fell for the third month in a row last month, pushed down by falling food and gas costs. The drop is the latest evidence inflation is tame. The producer price index dropped 0.2 percent in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That follows a decline of 0.8 percent in November.(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

NO PRESSURE: Wholesale prices fell 0.2 percent in December, the third consecutive monthly decline. Falling food and gas costs helped. Without food and energy, core wholesale prices ticked up only 0.1 percent.

MORE RELIEF: For the year, the Labor Department index that measures price changes before they reach the consumer rose 1.3 percent in 2012. It rose 4.7 percent in 2011.

WHO CARES?: Low inflation means consumers have more money to spend, which helps the economy. It also gives the Federal Reserve more room to keep interest rates low.