Further evidence emerged yesterday that manufacturers are passing on sharply higher oil and commodity prices down the supply chain.
It is a development which is likely to worry the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee and make it more likely that the next interest rate movement will be up.
The office for National Statistics said input prices were up 2.5 per cent in April from M arch on a seasonally adjusted basis, above analysts' expectations for a rise of 1.5 per cent. In March, prices fell a revised 0.2 per cent, against the previous prediction of a 0.3 per cent rise.
The monthly rise in input prices, which was the highest since last July, was mainly due to price rises in crude oil, metals and home produced food materials which were partially offset by a fall in fuels, including a 14.6 per cent drop in gas prices.
The statistics office said crude oil prices rose 10.6 per cent between March and April and were 45 per cent higher on a year-on-year basis. The monthly rise is the largest since July last year when crude oil prices increased 11.4 per cent.
Crude oil prices are now at their highest since records began.
Meanwhile, imported metal prices rose by 4.4 per cent in the month to April, the highest monthly surge since March 2004.
It was mainly due to a 9.6 per cent increase in imported copper, a 10.2 per cent rise in imported platinum and a 2.2 per cent spike up in basic iron and steel and ferro alloys.
The monthly rises in imported copper and imported platinum are the largest since March 2004.
On an annual basis, input prices rose by 15.7 per cent in April, higher than expectations of a 14.3 per cent increase. April's increase was the highest since December.
In March, input prices rose by 13.1 per cent year-on-year. Output prices, on a nonadjusted basis, rose by 0.6 per cent between March and April, double the previous month's rate.
The rise in output prices over the month mainly reflected a jump in petroleum product prices, which rose 2.1 per cent.
The figures were also affected by the Budget increases in taxation of tobacco and beer and wine. If passed on in full, the changes in excise duty on tobacco and alcohol would have increased the index by about 0.14 per cent in April, the statistics office said.
On an annual basis, prices rose by 2.4 per cent, down on the 2.5 per cent recorded in March but above analysts' forecasts for a 2.3 per cent rise.
This was only because the duty changes had a smaller upward impact than a year earlier.
The statistics office also said that core output prices, which strips out more volatile components such as food, beverages, tobacco and petroleum, rose by 2.3 per cent in April from a year earlier. That was the highest since May 2005 and was higher than expectations of a second consecutive 1.9 per cent reading.
On a monthly basis, core output prices rose by 0.4 per cent, higher than the 0.3 per cent recorded in March. April's reading was the highest since July 2005 when they also increased by 0.4 per cent. It was last higher in October 2004, when they rose by 0.7 per cent. "
This will probably heighten the market's awareness of a possible rising rate environment," said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec.
John Butler, of HSBC, said: "This move will be interpreted as evidence that inflationary pressure is now starting to seep through the supply chain." And Royal Bank of Scotland economist Ross Walker added: "The data provides more ammunition for the MPC hawks."
Interest rates are currently 4.5 per cent.