WASHINGTON – U.S. producer prices (search) moved up a steep 0.6 percent last month, above analysts' expectations, as energy, tobacco and vehicle prices all shot higher, a government report showed Tuesday.
Stripping out volatile food and energy costs, the Labor Department's (search) producer price index, a gauge of prices received by farms, factories and refineries, rose 0.3 percent.
Wall Street economists had forecast a 0.4 percent rise in April producer prices, and a 0.2 percent gain excluding food and energy costs. The higher-than-expected increases were likely to keep inflation worries alive in financial markets.
Energy prices rose 2.1 percent last month, a bit slower than in March. If that gain were stripped out, producer prices would have risen just 0.1 percent.
Over the past 12 months, energy costs are up 15.9 percent, reflecting a big run-up in the cost of crude oil. Oil prices hit a record high above $58 a barrel in early April but quickly retreated. On Monday, U.S. crude oil futures settled at $48.61.
The report showed a 1.2 percent jump in cigarette prices, a 0.5 percent rise in the cost of cars and a 0.6 percent gain in prices for light trucks and SUVs.
Food prices rose a mild 0.1 percent.
The department issues a report on consumer prices on Wednesday. Analysts will examine the report closely for signs producers are meeting with success in passing along their increased costs to consumers.