WASHINGTON — The July consumer price index was completely as expected at plus-0.2% overall, with core up 0.2% (0.1545% unrounded). These resulted in a 2.0% overall rise and a 1.7% gain in core over the year.

Energy prices were up 0.2% in a third gain as gasoline posted a 1.0% increase. Electric costs were down 0.3% and natural gas fell 2.8% as offsets.

Food costs were up 0.1% as fruit and vegetable prices surged but nonalcoholic beverages and bakery products fell.

In core, apparel was up 0.6% on women's clothes, drugs rose 0.5% and tobacco jumped 1.4% (in the biggest rise since July 2010). But used cars posted a 0.4% decline (up 0.5% before seasonal adjustment), appliances fell 1.3% and airfares dropped 1.3%. Core was not exactly featureless — but just well-behaved after price moves offset.

Owners' equivalent rent posted a modest 0.1% increase.

The bottom line from the July CPI data is that prices remain contained. A Bureau of Labor Statistics economist did categorize medical care trends as "at historical lows."

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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