The consumer price index unexpectedly dipped 0.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, the first drop in more than a year as energy prices declined, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

Core prices, excluding food and energy costs, were unchanged in April, the second consecutive month with no core price change. For the 12 months ending in April, consumer prices rose 2.2%.

The energy index declined 1.4%, led by a 2.4% decline in the gasoline index. Gas prices increased 38.3% for the 12 months ending in April. The index for all commodity prices dropped 0.4%, the largest decline since December 2008.

Among core price indexes, airline fares increased 2.2% in April, the largest jump since December. The shelter index and new vehicle index were both flat. Over the last 12 months, core consumer prices have risen 0.9%.

The drop in April CPI lifted real average hourly earnings for all employees 0.1%. Excluding the change in prices, average hourly earnings were flat for the month. Real average hourly earnings fell 0.6% from a year ago.

The producer price index for April, reported Tuesday, dropped 0.1%, and was up 0.2%, excluding food and energy prices.

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