US WHOLESALE PRICES DIP 0.1 PERCENT Wholesale prices turned in their best performance of the year in April, posting a 0.1 percent decline as both food and energy costs fell, the government reported yesterday. The decrease in the Labor Department's Producer Price Index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, was the first monthly decline since a similar 0.1 percent decrease last December. For the last 12 months, wholesale prices have fallen by 0.4 percent, the first time they have decreased over a 12-month period since January 1992. Analysts said that despite yesterday's good news on inflation, they still expected Federal Reserve policymakers to decide to boost interest rates further when they meet again next Tuesday. (See interest-rate related stories on Pages 1 and 8.) In other economic news, the Commerce Department reported yesterday that retail sales fell by an unexpectedly sharp 0.8 percent in April, the second decline in fourth months. Analysts blamed much of the weakness on the fact that Easter came early this year, pushing many sales into March. Bosnia fighting
UN officials yesterday reported increased military activity in northern Bosnia, including a mortar attack that knocked out electricity in Serb-held Brcko. The shelling intensified as Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-led government hardened their positions before a crucial meeting today in Geneva of Russian, US, and West European foreign ministers hoping to push the warring sides back to the negotiating table. Japan politics heats up
Opposition leaders yesterday accused Japan's shaky new government of being unfit for the job and urged Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata to call early elections. Yohei Kono, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, heaped blame on Mr. Hata for a host of woes hardly a week after Hata took office. As head of Japan's first minority government since 1955, Hata controls only a minority in Parliament, which means opponents can force elections with a no-confidence vote. Red tide off Texas
Red tide is suspected in a huge fish kill along the Texas coast. More than 250,000 fish, mostly hardhead and gafftop catfish, had died as of Wednesday, with thousands washing up along the 62 miles of beach between Galveston and Sabine Pass. Fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico were still considered safe to eat.