The Labor Department reported Tuesday that wholesale prices rose by 1.1 percent in March, the largest increase since a 2.6 percent rise last November. The November gain in the Producer Price Index was the biggest one-month jump in 33 years.
Analysts had expected a much more moderate 0.4 percent rise in wholesale prices for the month. However, food costs, which had fallen by 0.5 percent in February, leapt by 1.2 percent last month, propelled upward by big gains in vegetables and beef and the biggest increase in rice prices in more than five years. Those were far higher increases in food prices than expected.