Nov. 18, 2004--Led by a surge in fuel costs, producer prices rose by 1.7 % in October, according to new figures released by the Labor Department.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that the seasonally adjusted Producer Price Index for finished goods advanced 1.7% in October, after rising 0.1% in September and falling by the same amount in August. Prices received by the manufacturers of intermediate goods went up 0.9%, after increasing only 0.1% in September, while the index for crude materials turned up 4.3% in October, reversing a 4.2% September decline.

Among finished goods, prices for energy goods jumped 6.8% in October following a modest loss the previous month. Gasoline prices led the way, climbing 17.3%, following a 0.7% rise in September. The indexes for residential electric power, residential natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and home heating oil all rose in October, following decreases in the previous month.

The finished consumer foods index edged up 1.6% after remaining mostly unchanged in September, while prices for finished goods other than foods and energy advanced by only 0.3% in October, the same rate of increase as the previous month.

Before seasonal adjustment, the Producer Price Index for Finished Goods increased 2.2% in October to 151.9, a 4.4% advance since October 2003. Over that same period, prices for finished energy goods shot up by 17.2% and the index for finished consumer foods rose 2.5%, while the index for finished goods other than foods and energy climbed 1.8%. Prices for intermediate goods moved up 9.0 % during the 12-month period ended October 2004, and the crude goods index jumped 15.7%.

After dropping 6.6% in September, prices for crude energy materials moved up 7.9% in October. The natural gas index increased 2.7%, following a 12.4% decline in September. Crude petroleum prices jumped 18.4%, after slipping 0.3% in the prior month. By contrast, a 1.9% decline in the coal index was preceded by a 2.9% gain in September.