WASHINGTON – Inflation at the wholesale level slid last month, pulled down by plummeting energy prices.
The Labor Department says its producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, fell 0.1 percent in March, the first drop since August. Wholesale prices rose 0.3 percent in February and 0.6 percent in January. Producer prices were up 2.3 percent in March from a year earlier, the sharpest annual increase in five years.
Energy prices tumbled 2.9 percent, including an 8.3 percent drop in gasoline.
But excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core wholesale inflation was unchanged in March and is up just 1.6 percent over the past year.
The Federal Reserve last month raised interest rates for the second time in three months and forecast two more hikes this year.