Producer Prices Rise By 1 Percent in March

Rising energy costs pushed producer prices up by a greater-than-expected 1.0 percent in March, but producer prices excluding food and energy were flat, a Labor Department report showed on Friday.

Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a 0.7 percent gain in overall producer prices and a 0.2 percent rise in core producer prices.

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Overall producer prices rose 3.2 percent from March a year ago, the biggest climb since a 3.8 percent 12 month gain to August 2006.

However, core producer prices rose 1.7 percent from the same period 12 months ago, down from a 1.8 percent year-over-year rise in February.

Energy prices advanced 3.6 percent in March after a 3.5 percent increase in February, the report showed. It was the steepest gain since November.

Food prices were up 1.4 percent after a 1.9 percent rise the previous month.

The Federal Reserve has identified inflation as its predominant concern about the U.S. economy. Minutes of the Fed's March meeting released Wednesday showed the central bank is prepared to raise interest rates if necessary to keep inflation at bay.

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