Wholesale price rise eased a bit in December

US wholesale prices rose 0.8 percent in December, the most modest increase in six months, but prices for 1979 as a whole recorded the steepest climb since 1974, the government announced. The Labor Department said lower food and steady fuel- oil prices helped keep the December increase down.

But wholesale prices finished the year 12.5 percent higher than at the end of 1978, which was the biggest increase since an 18.3-percent rise in 1974.

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