The prices paid to U.S. farms, refineries, and other producers rose a sharp nine-tenths of a percent in April.

A report Tuesday from the Labor Department showed much of the increase came from rising energy prices.

Economists set aside volatile prices for energy and food to get a look at the underlying inflation rate.

By that measure, growth in "core" prices was a modest one-tenth of a percent. Some analysts said if that trend continues, the U.S. central bank might pause in its campaign to fight inflation by raising interest rates.

Higher interest rates have already slowed growth in the housing industry. The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the number of homes started in April fell 7.4 percent from the previous month.