WASHINGTON - An unexpected drop yesterday in the government's producer price index for April served notice again that inflationary pressures remain well contained.

The Labor Department said that producer prices slipped 0.1% last month as food and energy costs both eased, continuing a string of encouraging reports showing hardly any change in inflation at the wholesale level. Compared to a year earlier, April prices were actually down 0.4%. Excluding food and energy, they were up a scant 0.1%.

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