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True love's 12 gifts to cost more this year

Avian-flu risk raises price of partridge in pear tree

The gifts from the "Twelve Days of Christmas" will cost your true love more this year, thanks to higher energy prices and the threat of avian flu.

The cost of paying for every gift and service from the holiday carol, from a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming, rose 6.1 percent this year to $18,348, according to the tongue-in-cheek Christmas Price Index released Monday by PNC Advisors in Philadelphia.

"That's one of the larger increases in the history of the index," Chief Investment Strategist Jeff Kleintop said in a phone interview. PNC Advisors, which is part of PNC Financial Services Group Inc., has released the index since 1984 and calculated the prices in October.

The price increases may reflect signs of inflation that led the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates nine times since November 2004, Kleintop said. Higher fuel and gold prices, along with restrictions on the shipment of birds because of the flu scare, share some of the blame, he said.

The biggest year-over-year increases in the index were in obtaining six geese-a-laying, seven swans-a-swimming and five gold rings. Only one area remained steady and that's wages, making it easier to pay for eight maids-a-milking, 10 lords-a- leaping, 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming.