America

Wholesale Prices Shot Up 1.6 Percent In February

Sharp increases in the costs of food and energy sent wholesale prices up 1.6 percent in February from January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

It was the largest one-month increase since a 1.9 percent rise in June 2009, BLS says.

The driving forces:

— Food costs went up 3.9 percent, the largest one-month rise since November 1974, The Associated Press says.

— Energy costs rose 3.3 percent.

For the year ended Feb. 28, wholesale prices rose 5.6 percent.

In other economic news, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development say there was a 22.5 percent plunge in housing starts last month from January. Reuters says that's the biggest one-month decline in 27 years and suggests that "the beleaguered real estate sector has yet to rebound from its deepest slump in modern history."

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