Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Higher food costs lift US producer prices

Christmas decorations
US consumers spent less than expected over the festive season

US producer prices rose 0.2% in December compared with November, led by an increase in the cost of food products, the Labor Department said.

The seasonally adjusted increase in the price of goods leaving US factories was a slowdown on November's 1.8% rise.

For 2008 as a whole, producer prices increased by 4.4% as the US economy started to recover from the middle of the year.

Separate data showed a 4% fall in US housing construction in December.

However, analysts said this decline was primarily caused by the cold weather.

Excluding food and energy products, which tend to be more volatile, core producer prices were unchanged in December, and were up 0.9% for 2009 as a whole.

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