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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices rose slightly in May as higher energy costs were partly offset by cheaper food. The small increase underscores that inflation is mild.

The Labor Department says the consumer price index ticked up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent last month, only the second increase in seven months. Consumer prices fell 0.4 percent in April, the largest decline in four years. In the past 12 months, prices have increased 1.4 percent.

Higher natural gas and electricity costs pushed up energy prices 0.4 percent. Gas prices were flat. Food costs fell 0.1 percent, as grocery prices dropped by the most in almost four years.

Outside the volatile food and gas categories, core prices rose 0.2 percent in May and 1.7 percent in the past 12 months.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.