LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 27: Gas prices are displayed at a Chevron station on April 27, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Prices in Los Angeles County have fallen to their lowest level since early March, with the average price of a gallon of self-service regular gasoline currently at $5.774. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — An inflation gauge closely tracked by the Federal Reserve surged 6.6% in March compared with a year ago, the highest 12-month jump in four decades and further evidence that spiking prices are pressuring household budgets and the health of the economy. Yet there are signs that inflation might be slowing from its galloping pace and perhaps nearing a peak, at least for now. Excluding the especially volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices rose 5.2% in March from a year earlier. That was slightly below the 5.3% year-over-year increase in February, and it was the first time that 12-month figure has declined since February 2021, before the inflation spike began.