Surging gasoline costs sparked the biggest jump in U.S. wholesale prices in five months in March.

Tuesday's report from the Labor Department said producer prices rose seven-tenths of a percent.

Experts say volatile energy and food prices can obscure economic trends, so they set aside these prices and look at the so-called "core" rate of inflation.

By that measure, wholesale prices were up a less-than-expected one-tenth of a percent.

That may reassure jittery investors who have seen inflation fears drive down stock market prices over the past week.

A separate report, from the Commerce Department on Tuesday, showed the sharpest decline in housing starts in 14 years, a 17.6 percent drop.

If construction continued at that pace all year, more than 1.8 million dwellings would go up.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP, Reuters and Bloomberg.