WASHINGTON — Apparel prices declined a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in March, and rose 1.4 percent year-over-year, the Labor Department said Wednesday in its Consumer Price Index.

Women’s apparel prices dropped 0.6 percent month-to-month, and increased 0.3 percent from March 2008. Men’s apparel prices advanced 0.5 percent in March, and rose 2.7 percent in 12-month comparisons.

Prices for all goods and services decreased a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in March as food and energy costs declined. In February, prices for all goods and services advanced 0.4 percent.

ear-over-year, the index declined 0.4 percent in March, the first 12-month decline since August 1955.

Core inflation, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, rose a higher than anticipated 0.2 percent. March was the third consecutive month in which core prices increased by that amount.

“The CPI is in negative territory, but the economy is not in a deflationary spiral,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist, IHS Global Insight.

For complete coverage, see Thursday’s WWD.

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