WASHINGTON — The larger-than-expected decline in March consumer prices reflected the recent sharp drop in gasoline prices but overall inflation excluding the more volatile items remained modest.

The March Consumer Price Index fell 0.2% after jumping 0.7% in February, and the core — excluding food and energy — advanced 0.1% for a 1.5% increase in overall CPI, and a 1.9% rise in the core index over the year.

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