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News Summary: Wholesale prices drop in March

The Associated Press

In this Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 photo, a woman fills up a gas tank at a gas station in Chicago. A measure of wholesale prices fell by the largest amount in 10 months in March, reflecting a big drop gasoline prices. The Labor Department, on Friday, April 12, 2013, says its producer price index fell 0.6 percent in March compared with February. In February, wholesale prices had jumped 0.7 percent. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

GAS-DRIVEN DROP: A measure of wholesale prices fell 0.6 percent in March, the largest decline in 10 months, reflecting a hefty 6.8 percent drop in gasoline prices. Food prices rose 0.8 percent.

CORE READING: Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the Labor Department reported Friday that core inflation rose 0.2 percent last month. Wholesale and retail inflation have remained mild, apart from sharp swings in gas prices.

THE OUTLOOK: As long as the inflation rate stays mild, the Fed has said it plans to keep the short-term interest rate it controls at a record low near zero until the unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent. Unemployment in March dropped to a four-year low of 7.6 percent but the number of jobs created slowed to just 88,000, the smallest in nine months.