WASHINGTON — The overall Consumer Price Index increased 0.5% in December, its sixth consecutive month of gains. The increase follows advances of 0.1% in November, 0.2% in October, 0.1% in September and 0.3% in both August and July. At 220.3, the index was up 1.5% over the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor. The index for food and beverages also finished higher, rising 0.1% to 221.5. The index rose 0.2% in November and 0.1% in October.

The energy index finished higher, as the gasoline index rose sharply and accounted for approximately 80% of the all items increase. The household energy index, which declined in November, increased in December. Over the past 12 months, the index for energy has risen 7.7%.

The food index rose 0.1% to 221.1 after rising 0.2% in November.

The sharpest increase during December occurred in the index for fruits and vegetables, which rose 1.8% to 273.2. The gain followed a decline of 0.2% in November, and reflected a 3.4% increase in the index for fresh fruits.

The cereals and bakery products index also rose, advancing 0.5% to 252.4. The index had gained 0.4% during November.

The index for dairy and related products, which was flat in November, rose 0.4% in December to 202.1. The index for other food at home rose 0.1% during December.

Nonalcoholic beverages, which rose 0.8% during November, sustained the sharpest decline during December, falling 1.3% to 160.2.

Also declining during December was the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs, which fell 0.4% to 211.8.