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US Cost of Living Falls at Sharpest Rate in Decades


The cost of living in the United States has fallen at the sharpest rate in about six decades.

Wednesday's report from the Labor Department is fresh evidence that the recession is keeping businesses from raising prices and workers from demanding raises.

The data show that the U.S. consumer price index fell 1.3 percent in the 12-month period that ended in May. While costs fell for the year, there was a slight increase in prices (one-tenth of a percent) in May.

The recession is also cutting U.S. trade with the rest of the world. A Commerce Department report Wednesday says U.S. exports and imports dropped sharply.

The gap between the value of goods and services Americans buy from foreigners and what they sell abroad (the current account deficit) shrank to just over $100 billion for the first three months of this year.

Meanwhile, two of the world's top package delivery companies say the worst of the recession may be over.

Many economists look at U.S.-based United Parcel Service and FedEx as bellwethers because consumers and businesses send more packages when economic conditions are good.

FedEx said Tuesday it expects the next six months will be "extremely difficult" but that the company's fortunes should improve by early next year.

FedEx says revenue for the three months ending in May, $7.85 billion, fell 20 percent compared to the same time last year.

On Tuesday, UPS Chief Executive Scott Davis predicted the recession would be over by the end of the year.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.



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