U.S. consumer prices declined in November for the first time in five months, falling 0.3 percent, as gasoline price declines offset increases in other areas, the U.S. Labor Department announced Friday.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected consumer prices to fall 0.2 percent in November, after a 0.1 percent rise in October.

The CPI core rate, which excludes the often-volatile food and energy component, rose 0.1 percent in November.

On a year-over-year basis, inflation ran at a 1.8 percent rate -- well within the U.S. Federal Reserve's "comfort zone" for inflation. That low inflation rate should allow the Fed to maintain its accommodative monetary policy stance of very low short-term interest rates and quantitative easing for at least the next two quarters, and probably for much longer, to help the economy recover from the recesssion.