The Consumer Price Index fell 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis for March, according to a Labor Department report (link opens in PDF) released today.
After rising 0.7% for February, market analysts had expected overall prices to remain unchanged for March.
Gas prices had fueled much of February's rise, but falling energy costs were a primary driver behind March's price drop. Gasoline prices decreased 4.4%, while the overall energy index managed a 2.6% drop. Food prices remained flat.
Excluding food and energy prices, consumer prices bumped up 0.1%, just under analysts' predictions of a 0.2% increase. Used cars and trucks made the largest price gains, up 1.2%, while apparel lagged with a 1% price slump.
On a longer-term basis, the overall index increased 1.5% in the last year, or 1.9% without food and energy prices. Food prices are up 1.5% for the same time period, while energy prices have dropped 1.6%.