The producer price index fell 0.6% at a seasonally adjusted rate in February, the largest monthly decline in seven months, as energy prices decreased, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

Core producer prices increased 0.1%, the second consecutive monthly gain. Passenger car prices at the wholesale level increased 0.5%, the largest monthly gain since June 2009.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected producer prices to fall 0.2% and for core prices to increase 0.1%, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Meanwhile, wholesale prices in January increased 1.4% and core prices rose 0.3%.

Finished energy goods decreased 2.9% in February, the first time in four months, giving up some of the price gains from January. Gasoline prices fell 7.4% in February following an 11.5% increase in January.

For the year ending in February, producer prices increased 4.4%, the fourth consecutive annual increase. Core prices increased 1.0%.

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