U.S. consumer prices fell in November by the largest amount in six years, a bonanza stemming from plunging oil prices that also boosted inflation-adjusted worker pay. The consumer price index declined by a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in November, the largest drop since December 2008. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the CPI to drop 0.1% because of a sharp reduction in the cost of oil. Energy prices retreated for the fifth straight month, led by a 6.6% decrease in the gasoline index, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Food prices rose 0.2%. The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, increased by 0.1% last month. Housing and medical care expenses both rose. Consumer prices have risen an unadjusted 1.3% over the past 12 months, down from 1.7% in the prior month and as high as 2.1% in June. Real or inflation-adjusted hourly wages, meanwhile, jumped by 0.6% in November after basically no change in the prior two months. Real hourly wages are up just 0.8% in the past 12 months, however.
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