Consumer prices in the Philadelphia area rose 1.0 percent in the March-April period, the highest two-month hike since July and August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said yesterday.

The increase from the end of February was led by higher prices for transportation and housing, but prices rose for most major categories of goods, said Sheila Watkins, the bureau's regional commissioner in Philadelphia.

By comparison, prices in the area rose 0.7 percent in the January-February period.

Only two categories had price declines in the March-April period: Apparel was down 0.7 percent, and the food-beverage category fell 0.3 percent.

But transportation was up 4.9 percent. That was mostly because of gasoline prices, which rose 13.0 percent in March and 7.1 percent in April. Another factor was higher prices for leased cars and trucks, the bureau said.

Higher prices for sports equipment, toys, club-membership dues and participant sports pushed the recreation component of the area's Consumer Price Index up 0.9 percent in the March-April period.

Housing was up 0.6 percent, mostly because of higher costs for rent, the equivalent of rent for homeowners, lodging away from home and insurance.

The local area consists of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties in Pennsylvania; Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties in New Jersey; New Castle County, Del., and Cecil County, Md.

- Paul Schweizer