WASHINGTON – Higher gas costs drove up wholesale prices last month, ending a string of four straight declines.
The Labor Department says its producer price index increased 0.2 percent in March, after sharp drops in the two previous months. The index measures prices before they reach the consumer.
Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices also rose 0.2 percent.
In the past year, wholesale prices have plummeted 0.8 percent, the sharpest drop in the four years since the government updated its methods for calculating the index. Cheaper gas caused most of the decline. Core prices have risen 0.8 percent in the past 12 months.
Last month's increase suggests inflation has stabilized and may move slightly higher in the months ahead. The government reports consumer prices Friday.