Consumer prices drop in March

Consumer prices dipped unexpectedly in March, leaving inflation over the past year falling at the fastest clip in more than a half-century.

The Labor Department says consumer prices edged down 0.1 percent last month as a drop in energy prices offset the biggest rise in tobacco prices since 1998. It was a better performance than the 0.1 percent rise that economists had expected.

The recession is expected to keep a lid on inflation as massive layoffs dampen wage pressures and weak demand keeps companies from raising product prices.