Declining energy costs fueled an unexpected 0.2% drop in U.S. producer prices in November, a figure that left the year-over-year rate of wholesale costs at its lowest level in 10 years, the Labor Department said Friday.

The producer price index was down 0.6% in the 12 months ended in November, the slowest rate of activity in producer prices since January 1987. So far in 1997, producer prices are down 1.2%.

As has been the case in recent months, the November data were dominated by trends in energy costs. The overall finished energy goods category fell 0.8% in November. Within that grouping, gasoline prices fell 3.1%, thoughwhile heating oil costs jumped 5.4%. That gain marked the biggest jump in heating oil prices since the 14.5% surge registered in April 1996.

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