ECONOMY

Wholesale prices up just 0.3 percent in February

Inflation at the wholesale level rose at just half the rate in February as the previous month, as a surge in energy prices slowed.

The Labor Department says its producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, increased 0.3 percent in February following a 0.6 percent rise in January. Part of the slowdown reflected less of an increase in energy products, which rose 0.6 percent in February after jumping 4.7 percent in January.

Over the past 12 months, wholesale prices are up 2.2 percent, reflecting a steady rise in inflation as energy prices have increased. Just six months ago, the year-over-year increase stood at zero.

The Federal Reserve is meeting this week and is expected to boost a key interest rate, in part to reflect rising inflation.