Slumping natural gas prices offset festering high prices in other corners of the economy and helped to keep overall inflation mostly in check last month.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday its Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased at a rate of 3.2% in the 12-month period through February. That was up from 3.1% the prior month but still down notably from 6.5% at the end of 2022 and the peak of that year.

Inflation jumped to a 40-year high of 9.1% in mid-2022, in part because of supply chain snarls and other problems imposed by the pandemic’s fallout. But a spike in natural gas and other energy costs that year also factored in substantially. Natural gas prices rallied to multi-year highs in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early in 2022.

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