Prices in Brasil spurted 1.32 percent in March, the biggest monthly jump in 12 years, lifting inflation in Latin America's largest economy to 8.13 percent on an annualized basis, official figures showed Wednesday.
The monthly rise was the highest since February 2003, the national statistical institute IBGE said, confirming an inflationary trend that continues to run well ahead of the government's target ceiling of 6.5 percent.
The latest uptick, the highest figure for March in 20 years, is a blow to Brazil's hopes of reinvigorating an economy struggling with sluggish growth and a corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras.
Prices have risen 3.83 percent so far this year.
Double-digit hikes in energy bills introduced after a tariffs review in February underpinned the overall upward trend, the IBGE said in a statement, noting an average increase of 22.08 percent for consumers.
"With these rises the consumer is paying 36.34 percent more on average this year for energy use and over the past 12 months bills are coming in 60.42 percent more expensive," IBGE said.
Brazil's leftist President Dilma Rousseff, re-elected last October but saddled with a burgeoning corruption scandal at Petrobras implicating dozens of political allies, has responded to the downturn with budget cuts.
But she has promised to protect social programs for the working class, bedrock of support for her Workers Party.
Aside from energy, key areas stoking the March price hikes were housing, up 5.29 percent; food and beverages, rising 1.1 percent; and education, up 0.75 percent.
In contrast, telecommunications fell 1.16 percent.
As prices soar, Brazil's central bank has been steadily raising interest rates, to a current 12.75 percent.
As Rousseff's administration attempts to stave off a second recession in two years, the negative numbers are piling up. Industrial production has declined, public accounts have deteriorated and joblessness is rising, albeit from historic lows.
Brazil signed off last year with just 0.1 percent GDP growth -- a far cry from the 7.5 percent seen five years ago -- and the market forecast for this year is for a contraction of 1.0 percent.