WASHINGTON — A decline in men’s apparel prices and falling boys’ and girls’ prices brought down overall retail apparel prices in June, despite a 0.3 percent increase in women’s, marking three straight months of declines in the sector, according to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index released Friday.

A 0.3 percent decrease in men’s apparel prices and declines of 0.5 percent in boy’s and 1.6 percent in girls’ tipped overall apparel prices into the negative last month. Retail apparel prices fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in June, following a 0.5 percent decline in May and a 0.3 percent decline in April.

In the men’s category, retail prices for furnishings dropped 1.7 percent, while prices for pants and shorts fell 0.2 percent. In the combined suits, sport coats and outerwear group, prices rose 1.4 percent, while prices for shirts and sweaters crept up 0.2 percent.

In women’s, prices for outerwear rose 2.3 percent last month, as prices for the combined category of underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories gained 1.4 percent. Dress prices were up 0.8 percent, but prices for suits and separates fell 0.5 percent.

The overall CPI rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in June, driven by rising gasoline prices and food prices impacted by soaring egg prices associated with an outbreak of avian flu in the U.S. Core retail prices, excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, were up 0.2 percent.

“The cost of living rose for the fifth month in a row,” said Chris G. Christopher Jr., U.S. director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight. “The headline CPI was up 0.3 percent in June, with bad news on food prices — mostly due to a surge in egg prices. Goods prices are relatively weak, service prices are stubborn.”

Christopher noted that core consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in June and 1.8 percent for the 12 months, with shelter and airfares the worst culprits.

“Today’s consumer price inflation report reinforces our view that the Fed will start raising rates in September,” Christopher said.

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