Business: Bright Sun, Cold Wind

The economic news last week resembled an early spring weather report: mostly bright sunshine, but with a chilly wind to serve as an unwelcome reminder of the bitter winter. The wind was inflation, which leaped to an annual rate of 12.7% in February as measured by the Consumer Price Index, even worse than the 10% pace of January. By far the biggest rise came in food prices, largely reflecting fruit and vegetable shortages caused by January's crop-killing cold. Though most economists expect the rate to fall in coming months—they think the underlying pace is 5% to 6%—the February inflation rate was...

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