Retreating gas prices held U.S. consumer prices to a modest 0.1 percent increase in July, the smallest gain in eight months, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

Excluding food and energy prices, which fell by 1 percent, so-called core consumer prices rose by just 0.2 percent last month, the report said.

The gains were driven by higher prices for apparel and medical care, while prices for transportation and recreation continued to drop.

In the past year, core consumer prices have increased by 2.2 percent.

By contrast, wholesale prices rose by 0.6 percent last month, while core prices rose 0.1 percent, the department reported Tuesday. Core producer prices have grown by 2.3 percent in the past year, a two-year high.

Published on: Aug 15, 2007