The consumer price index remains as flat as the world of Columbus and a lot less likely to surprise anyone with something notable on the horizon.

The index was unchanged in October, after modest 0.3% increases in the two previous months. Excluding food and energy, prices were up 0.2%, a bit more than September's increase.

Over the past 12 months, overall prices are up 2%.

The consumer price figures follow a report on inflation at the wholesale level week showing producer prices in October rose an unexpectedly sharp 0.8% , mostly because of autos.

The lack of price pressure in the economy allowed the

Federal Reserve

to reduce interest rates to a 45-year low earlier this year and keep them there. But the Fed has also expressed repeated concerns that the chances of disinflation are greater than those of significant inflation and that deflation, the rare condition of falling prices, is a remote possibility.

For all the talk of disinflation, its worth noting, however, that if you needed food, housing, clothing or medical care last month, prices were up in all of those categories. Both food and beverages and medical care are running at annualized rates of more than 4% over the past three months.