Consumer prices in the metropolitan area rose modestly in March from a year earlier on higher housing costs.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday its consumer price index for the 25-county region that includes Long Island increased 1.6 percent last month compared with March 2018.

The index climbed at the same rate, year over year, in January and December 2018.

In March, the cost of housing, including residential rent, rose 2 percent from a year earlier.

Grocery prices were up 2.4 percent.

The cost of natural gas climbed 2.5 percent, year over year.

Automobile insurance and alcohol prices rose 2.6 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

The cost of medical care was up 3.8 percent compared with March 2018.

The increases were partially offset by a 1.9 percent drop in the price of gasoline, year over year. The cost of electricity was down 2.5 percent, while clothing fell 3.1 percent.

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