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BALTIMORE AREA GROCERY PRICES DOWN FOR THIRD MONTH IN A ROW; ENERGY PRICES EDGE DOWN

 BALTIMORE, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Grocery prices in the Baltimore area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), declined 0.6 percent in December, the third consecutive decline, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
 Since September, grocery prices have dropped 1.6 percent. Alan M. Paisner, the Bureau's regional commissioner, noted that every grocery category decreased with the exception of fruits and vegetables. Since December 1991, the food at home index for Baltimore City and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Annes was 0.8 percent lower (see table.)
 The Baltimore food at home index stood at 138.2 on the 1982-84 base, which means that grocery shoppers in the Baltimore area would have had to spend $13.82 last month for a market basket of food items that cost $10 in 1982-84.
 Prices for cereals and bakery products were down 3.1 percent in December, the largest over-the-month decline since June 1977 when the index dropped 3.7 percent. Cereals and bakery products prices only rose in five of the last 12 months and the December index level was 0.4 percent below year-ago levels. The meats, poultry, fish and eggs index was down 1.7 percent in December and 1.8 percent over the year. Dairy products and the other foods at home category each had lower indexes than a month before.
 Fruits and vegetables prices were up 3.6 percent in December -- the fifth month in 1992 to have a one-month increase. Although most months had declines, the increases were substantial enough to keep the index level 0.5 percent higher than last December.
 Energy prices were lower in December as rising natural gas prices were more than offset by declining fuel oil and gasoline prices. Seven months of substantial price increases since May left the natural gas index 12.7 percent higher than a year before. Fuel oil prices were down 0.3 percent in December and 3.3 percent over the year. Gasoline prices dropped 1.1 percent but were still 3.2 percent higher than last December. Electricity prices were unchanged over the the month and nearly 5 percent lower over the year. Over the year, energy prices were 0.8 percent higher.
 CPI-U: BALTIMORE AREA, DECEMBER 1992 (1982-84 EQUALS 100)
 Index Percent
 GROUP Dec. change to Dec.
 1992 1992 from
 Dec. Nov.
 1991 1992
 Food at home 138.2 -0.8 -0.6
 Cereals and bakery products 162.0 -0.4 -3.1
 Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs 128.5 -1.8 -1.7
 Meats, poultry and fish 130.3 -1.4 -2.0
 Dairy products 137.4 1.0 -0.9
 Fruits and vegetables 153.0 0.5 3.6
 Other foods at home 130.5 -1.4 -0.3
 Energy 103.2 0.8 -0.2
 Fuels 101.4 -1.1 0.8
 Fuel oil 87.2 -3.3 -0.3
 Gas (piped) and electricity 115.8 -0.5 1.0
 Electricity 121.0 -4.9 0.0
 Utility (piped) gas 104.5 12.7 3.8
 Motor fuel 106.3 2.9 -1.2
 Gasoline 105.3 3.2 -1.1
 Gasoline, unleaded regular 103.5 3.7 -1.1
 Gasoline, unleaded premium 106.9 2.7 -1.3
 -0- 1/15/93
 /CONTACT: Michelle Weihmann (information), 215-596-1154, or Maureen Greene (media), 215-596-1157, both of the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics/


CO: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics ST: Maryland IN: HOU SU: ECO

LJ -- PH007 -- 5223 01/15/93 09:00 EST
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