May 13, 2004 -- According to a report released by the Commerce Department Thursday morning, retail sales fell an unexpectedly sharp 0.5% after showing unusually strong numbers in March.

Though the April decline was expected, due to the uncharacteristic 2.0% increase in March, the decrease was more than economists had projected.

In another report released by the Labor Department, oil and dairy products highlighted steep increases in the price of wholesale goods. The Product Price Index (PPI), the number that reflects the costs of goods before they hit the shelves, showed a .07%t increase, its largest gain since March 2003.

Thursday's numbers hint that inflation may be looming amid the expanding economy and will focus economists' attention on the Consumer Price Index numbers, due to be released on Friday.