Consumer prices in the metropolitan area fell slightly last month compared with a year ago because of a steep drop in the cost of gasoline.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported its consumer price index for the 31-county region that includes Long Island dropped 0.1 percent in July compared with July 2014.

The price index has dropped, year over year, four times since January.

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The declines have been due in large part to less expensive gasoline. In July, pump prices were down 25.3 percent compared to the same time a year earlier.

The cost of natural gas and electricity also were off 14.6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

However, the lower energy prices were offset somewhat by higher housing prices.

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Residential rents were up 2.9 percent in July compared with a year ago.

The cost of groceries rose 0.1 percent. Clothing and medical care increased 1.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.