WASHINGTON — The producer price index declined 0.3% in May as it was dragged down by a 1.5% decrease in energy prices, the Labor Department reported yesterday. It was third drop for the wholesale pricing gauge in the past four months.

Core producer prices, which exclude food and energy costs, rose 0.2%, their seventh consecutive monthly increase.

Economists expected producer prices to fall 0.5% and core prices to rise 0.1%, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters. Producer prices fell an unrevised 0.1% in April, while the core rose 0.2%.

The 1.5% decline in prices for finished energy goods came as gasoline prices fell 7.0%, home heating oil prices dropped 7.4%, and liquefied petroleum gas prices declined 2.7%. Food prices fell 0.6% in May, the second consecutive decrease. For the year ending in May, total producer prices rose 5.3% and core prices increased 1.3%.

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