A key measure of U.S. inflation rose less than forecast in March on a drop in apparel prices following a methodology change for data collection, offering some reinforcement for the Federal Reserve’s message of patience on interest rates.

The core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.1 percent from the prior month, and 2 percent from a year earlier, according to a Labor Department report Wednesday. Those readings missed both the monthly and annual estimates of economists, while the broader CPI climbed 0.4 percent as forecast and a faster-than-estimated 1.9 percent annually.

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