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US wholesale prices fell 0.1 percent in October as the cost of gasoline, heating oil, and food declined, the Labor Department reported. However, the "core" rate of inflation at the wholesale level - stripping out food and energy prices - rose a stronger-than-expected 0.3 percent, following a 0.8 percent rise in September. October's overall producer price index was the best showing since a 0.5 percent decline in February. In September, wholesale prices surged 1.1 percent, their biggest jump in nine years.

The Japanese government unveiled a $172 billion stimulus package to spur private spending, nurture entrepreneurs, and encourage hiring. Economic Planning Agency chief Taichi Sakaiya said it could boost gross domestic product by 2.5 percent over the next 12 months. The package includes $62 billion in government spending. Loan guarantees to small- and mid-size companies makes up most of the remaining $110 billion, officials said.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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