WASHINGTON - The producer price index for finished goods dropped 0.2% in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, while prices rose 0.2% at the core, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The fall was the first decline the index has seen in 2012, and was the result of a 1.4% decline in prices for finished energy goods, the Labor Department said. That price decrease was only partially offset by a 0.2% rise in the price index for finished consumer foods. The April decrease followed an unchanged index for March.

Core producer prices, excluding food and energy, were up 0.2%, after rising an unrevised 0.3% the previous month.

The decrease in the April producer price index contrasted with a flat projection offered by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, but the core price index increase was right in line with their estimated median gain of 0.2%.

Year-over-year the overall PPI was up 1.9%, shy of the economists' projection of a 2.1% increase. Core producer prices, year-over-year, were up 2.7%. Economists had expected it to rise 2.8%.

While finished goods prices fell, prices received by manufacturers of intermediate and crude goods decreased more sharply. Intermediate goods prices declined 0.5% in April, the largest monthly decrease in that index since a 1.0% fall in October 2011. Crude goods took a 4.4% dive, the largest since a 5.5% decline in February 2009.

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