Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg News

U.S. wholesale prices jumped in January by the most since September 2012, led by higher costs of gasoline and indicating inflation is beginning to stir.

The 0.6% gain in the producer-price index followed a 0.2% advance the prior month, a Labor Department report showed Feb. 14. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 0.3% rise. The measure was up 1.6% from a year earlier, also more than forecast.

The pickup in prices, which also reflected higher retailer and wholesaler margins, is the latest signal that broader inflation continues to move toward the goal of Federal Reserve policymakers. While rising demand and higher commodity costs are reviving price pressures in the production pipeline, renewed strength in the dollar may pose a headwind.

Projections for the producer-price index ranged from an advance of 0.2% to 0.5%, according to the Bloomberg survey.

Wholesale prices of goods increased 1% in January, the most since May 2015. Half of that pickup was due to a 12.9% surge in gasoline. Costs of pharmaceuticals, scrap steel, heating oil, natural gas and pork also moved higher.

Higher raw materials costs are pushing up inflation across the globe. In China, producer prices climbed in January by the most since 2011.

Services inflation in the United States accelerated, with prices increasing 0.3% in January following a 0.1% rise the prior month, the Labor Department’s data showed. More than 80% of the advance was traced to higher margins at retailers and wholesalers. Transportation and warehousing services prices climbed 1.1%.

Excluding food and energy, wholesale prices rose 0.4% from the previous month after a 0.1% rise. Those costs were 1.2% higher than in January 2016.

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By Sho Chandra
Bloomberg News


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