March 12 (UPI) -- Producer prices in the United States tumbled by 0.6 percent last month -- the greatest drop since 2015, mainly due to cheaper energy prices.
The decline of the index, which measures wholesale costs of U.S. goods and services, was significantly greater than most analysts expected. Experts had anticipated a decline of about 0.1 percent.
Thursday's index mostly reflected the steep drop recently in the cost of gasoline, which fell 6.5 percent in February, the Labor Department said.
The decline countered a sharp PPI surge of 0.5 percent in January and 0.2 percent in December.
Year-to-year, the index is up 1.3 percent -- slightly under expected growth of 1.4 percent.
Crude oil prices fell by 13 percent last month as the coronavirus outbreak drained travel demand and disrupted global supply chains. Prices have further been depressed this month by a dispute between OPEC and Russia over production cuts.