A measure of U.S. wholesale prices rose in February by the most in five months, pushed higher by more expensive gas and pharmaceuticals, the government said Thursday.
The producer price index grew 0.7 percent in February from January, the Labor Department reported, moving up from 0.2 percent in the previous month. Wholesale gas prices increased 7.2 percent.
Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core wholesale prices rose only 0.2 percent last month, while wholesale food prices fell 0.5 percent last months, led by an 18 percent drop in vegetable costs.
Higher pharmaceutical costs accounted for 20 percent of the increase in core prices last month, while gas prices have soared this year after falling at the end of 2012. The national average price for a gallon of gas jumped from $3.42 on January 31 to $3.78 on February 28.
Even with the increase, wholesale prices have risen just 1.7 percent in the past 12 months. The increase is below the Federal Reserve (Fed) inflation target of 2 percent.