Companies paid more for food, other goods in July

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Companies paid more in July for raw materials and wholesale goods. Food, tobacco and pickup truck costs drove the increase.

The Labor Department says the Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, rose 0.2 percent last month. That follows a 0.4 percent drop in June, the first decline in 17 months.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the so-called “core” index rose 0.4 percent. That’s the biggest increase since January.

Tobacco prices jumped 2.8 percent, the most in more than two years. That accounted for about a quarter of the rise in the core index. Pickup truck prices rose 1 percent.

Gas prices fell for the second straight month. Food costs rose 0.6 percent, the biggest rise since February.