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) -- Consumer prices edged up higher in September, matching expectations, but remain severely down for the year.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that consumer prices grew 0.2%, in-line with the 0.1% gain economists forecast.

On a year-over-year basis, however, prices tumbled 1.3%.

While the absence of price hikes have been a plus for consumers, it doesn't bode well for retailers who have seen sales and profits sink over the past year.

Excluding food and energy core inflation jumped 1.5% over the past 12 months.

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This low inflation pressure has allowed the Federal Reserve to leave interest rates at lows of zero to 0.25% and economists expect these levels will remain unchanged through most of 2010.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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