The Labor Department said consumer prices grew a modest 0.1% in March, as a fragile economy kept prices in check. Core inflation, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, was flat last month. Over the past 12 months, core inflation is up by just 1.1%, the lowest 12-month showing since a similar 1.1% rise for the year ending in January 2004. With inflation in check, the Federal Reserve is under little pressure to raise interest rates any time soon. But, despite the good inflation news, household budgets remained under pressure. In a separate report, the Labor Department said that average hourly earnings dipped 0.1% in March and dipped 0.2% after adjusting for the small rise in inflation. Over the past year, hourly earnings, after adjusting for inflation, are down 0.6%, evidence of how severely the recession has depressed wages.