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Producer Prices Rise 0.2 Percent

April 9, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Prices paid to producers such factories and refineries rose a mild 0.2 percent in March but the largest increase in crude oil costs since the Gulf War signaled faster inflation ahead.

The seasonally adjusted increase in the Labor Department’s Producer Price Index for finished goods brought the annual rate of inflation at the wholesale level to 1.5 percent so far in 1999, compared with a tiny 0.1 percent price decline for all of 1998.

Prices of finished energy goods jumped 1.2 percent in March, with gasoline rising 3.5 percent, heating oil soaring 13.1 percent _ the most in five years, residential electricity edging 0.2 percent higher and natural gas falling 1.8 percent.

However, energy consumers likely face even sharper price increases in the months ahead. Crude petroleum jumped 27.1 percent in March, the biggest increase since October 1990.

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