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Wholesale prices continue drop

Wholesale prices fell for a fourth straight month in February as a decline in food prices offset an increase in gasoline prices. The Labor Department said Friday its producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, dropped 0.5 percent in February. The figure follows a 0.8 percent fall in January, which had been a record decline in a government series that goes back to 2009. Core producer prices, which exclude volatile food and energy costs, also fell 0.5 percent during the month. Over the past 12 months, producer prices have shed 0.6 percent while core prices have climbed a modest 1 percent. Since last year, inflation since has moved even farther below the Federal Reserve’s goal of seeing prices rise about 2 percent annually. Food costs were down 1.6 percent in February. Energy costs overall were flat as declines in natural gas and electric power combined with a gain in gasoline, which rose 1.5 percent.