Published: Sep 30, 2010 4:19 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 30, 2010 1:19 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - The independent panel that oversees the U.S. Postal Service has denied the agency's request to increase the cost of mailing a letter by 2 cents - to 46 cents.

The Postal Regulatory Commission announced its decision rejecting the requested price hike at a news conference Thursday.

In July, the Postal Service proposed raising first-class postage from 44 cents to 46 cents as part of a strategy for dealing with a worsening financial crisis. The Postal Service lost $3.8 billion last year, and the agency has been seeking other rate increases as well, including higher fees for periodicals, post cards and parcels.

The new rates would have taken effect next Jan. 2.