WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices rose modestly last month as companies paid more for such items as food and pharmaceuticals. But energy prices barely rose, keeping inflation in check.

The Labor Department says the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach consumers, rose 0.3 percent in November.

In the 12 months ending in November, wholesale prices increased 5.7 percent, down from a 5.9 percent year-over-year pace in October. It’s the smallest yearly increase since March.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the so-called “core” index rose 0.1 percent, after a flat reading the previous month. In the 12 months ending in November, the core index rose 2.9 percent, up a yearly pace of 2.8 percent in October.