U.S. Producer Price Index Hikes in Feb.

Figures released Tuesday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show U.S. wholesale prices continued to rise in February, boosting 0.3% as the cost of services such as travel increased.

Economists had predicted a 0.1% gain for the producer price index (PPI).

The latest rise in PPI pushed the gain in wholesale prices over the last 12 months up to 2.2%, the highest rate since March 2012.

Experts say higher inflation helps explain why the U.S. Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates this week. PPI measures average changes in prices received by domestic producers for their output.

If food, energy and retail margins are stripped out, the more stable core PPI index also rose 0.3%. It is the core measure that gets more attention from investors.