WASHINGTON -- Big drops in the cost of food and energy pushed wholesale prices down 0.7% in April, the largest monthly decline in more than three years, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

The slide in the producer price index, the largest since February 2010, followed a 0.6% drop in March.

Gasoline prices, which have dropped significantly this year, sank 6% in April after tumbling 6.8% in March.

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Overall, wholesale energy prices dropped 2.5% in April after a 3.4% decline in March. Food prices were down 0.8% after rising by 0.8% in March.

Excluding food and energy costs, so-called producer prices were up 0.1% in April after rising 0.2% in March. April's increase was smallest since November.

The overall and core figures last month were in line with analyst expectations and signaled inflation remains in check.

In the 12 months ending in April, producer prices were up 0.6%. That remains below the Federal Reserve's target of 2% annual inflation.

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