Consumer prices were unchanged in November

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Consumer prices stayed flat in November, the latest sign that inflation has cooled off. Energy costs dropped for the second straight month, which offset higher prices that Americans paid for food, clothes and medical services.

The Labor Department says the consumer price index was unchanged in November. That followed a 0.1 percent decrease in October.

A spike in oil and other commodity costs drove up prices last year. In the 12 months ending in November, prices rose 3.4 percent, below October’s 3.5 percent pace and the smallest annual rise since April.

Still, excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the so-called “core” index rose 0.2 percent. Core prices have risen 2.2 percent in the past 12 months, the most in more than three years.