BUSINESS
02/16/2012 08:43 EST | Updated 04/17/2012 05:12 EDT

U.S. wholesale prices rose slightly in January as food, energy costs decline

WASHINGTON - Wholesale prices in the United States moved up slightly last month, held back by cheaper energy and food costs.

The Labor Department says the producer price index, which tracks price changes before they reach the consumer, rose 0.1 per cent. Wholesale prices fell by the same amount in December. In the past 12 months, they have increased 4.1 per cent, the smallest rise in a year.

Wholesale gas prices rose, but were offset by steep drops in home heating oil, natural gas, and electricity, which fell by the most in more than seven years.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called "core" prices increased 0.4 per cent, the most in six months.

Pharmaceutical costs drove much of the increase in the core. Household appliance prices rose by the most in three decades.