Consumer prices in the metropolitan area edged up last month compared with a year ago on higher residential rents.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday said its consumer price index for the 31-county region that includes Long Island rose 0.7 percent in March compared with a year earlier.

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Residential rents continued to propel the index. They increased 3.9 percent in March, year over year.

The cost of restaurant meals was up 3.2 percent while grocery prices fell 1.5 percent.

The cost of gasoline was down 21.8 percent last month compared with March 2015. The price of electricity fell 3.8 percent, and natural gas was up 1.6 percent.

Clothing prices fell 1.8 percent, year over year, while the cost of medical care increased 1.6 percent.