A steep fall in the price of gas pushed down a measure of U.S. consumer prices last month, keeping inflation mild. According to the Labor Department, the seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index (CPI) dropped in November 2012, down 0.3 percent from October.

Gas prices fell 7.4 percent, the biggest drop in nearly four years. That offset a 0.2 percent rise in food prices.

In the past year, consumer prices have risen 1.8 percent, down from October's 12-month increase of 2.2 percent.

Excluding the volatile food and gas categories, prices ticked up 0.1 percent in November. Core prices have risen 1.9 percent in the past year, which is below the Federal Reserve's annual target of 2 percent.

Gas prices have fallen sharply in the past two months after spiking in the late summer. As of Friday, December 14, 2012, the nationwide average cost of a gallon of gas is $3.29. That's 15 cents less than a month ago and 50 cents less than in mid-October.

Some items have seen big increases. The cost of milk, cheese and other dairy products have risen 0.8 percent in each of the past two months.

Cereals and baked goods rose 0.3 percent last month. But prices for the broad category of meat, chicken, fish and eggs fell in November, after a big gain the October.