WASHINGTON — The March producer price index data show a worsening inflation environment.

Overall PPI rose 1.1% in March, double the pace expected and the biggest jump since a 2.6% rise in November 2007. The core rate was up 0.2%, meeting expectations. Both are elevated readings compared to the last few years.

Energy posted a 2.9% gain as all components rose. But about half the acceleration was due to liquefied petroleum gas turning up after a dip in February. Seasonal adjustment actually served to dampen the rise in most energy categories.

Food posted a 1.2% increase, with surges in vegetables and cooking oils leading most prices higher. Milled rice prices jumped 8.7%, the highest since a similar gain posted six years ago in September 2002.

PPI is running 6.9% higher over the year versus a 3.1% increase in March 2007 as food and energy gained. Core is a much more subdued 2.7% increase over the year.

Intermediate PPI posted a 2.3% rise in March and crude jumped 8.0%, both indicating that there are price pressures pretty much all down the line. Metals and fertilizer prices continue to advance.

— Market News International

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