Wholesale inflation slows

WASHINGTON - Inflation at the wholesale level slowed in April following a huge increase in March although prices for a number of items from prescription drugs to pasta shot upward.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that wholesale inflation increased by 0.2 percent in April following a 1.1 percent jump in March. Outside of food and energy, prices rose by 0.4 percent in April.

The overall moderation in prices primarily reflected how the government adjusts its data to compensate for seasonal changes. Those adjustments showed gasoline prices falling last month even though motorists were seeing prices soar.

The 0.2 percent increase for the department's Producer Price Index was lower than expectations but the 0.4 percent rise excluding food in energy was double what economists had expected.

It left inflation outside of food and energy rising by 3 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest increase for a 12-month period since late 1991.

The report on the PPI, which measures price pressures before they reach consumers, followed news last week that consumer prices rose by just 0.2 percent in April even though food costs soared by the largest amount in 18 years.