Wholesale prices in December posted their biggest rise in nearly a year, lifted by more expensive energy and food costs. But most other prices were largely well behaved, suggesting inflation isn't spreading through the economy.
The Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach consumers, rose 1.1 percent in December, up from a 0.8 percent rise in November.
It was the largest increase since January 2010.
But outside the volatile energy and food categories, all other prices rose just 0.2 percent, down from a 0.3 percent rise. The lower reading on "core" prices indicates inflation isn't breaking out.
A separate report Thursday showed the U.S. trade deficit edged down to the lowest point in 10 months as exports, helped by a weaker dollar and rising foreign demand, climbed to the highest level in more than two years.
The Commerce Department says that the trade deficit narrowed to $38.3 billion in November, down 0.3 percent from October's revised $38.4 billion deficit.
Through the first 11 months of 2010, the deficit is running at an annual rate of $500.4 billion, 33.5 percent higher than in 2009 — a year when the deep recession cut into Americans' appetite for imports