Consumer inflation turned in its best performance in more than three years in August as prices remained frozen at the previous month's level, the government reported this week. It was the first time that the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index has not registered an increase since April 1986, when it fell by 0.3 percent. The August performance was credited to a 4.2 percent plunge in gasoline prices, the steepest one-month drop in three years.

Falling energy prices have given consumers three consecutive months of good news on inflation. Prices were up a modest 0.2 percent in both June and July.

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