July 5, 2022

Wholesale Prices Fall Again, While Inflation Remains Low

The producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in April from March, the Labor Department said Wednesday. It was the second straight monthly decline and the steepest since February 2010.

Lower inflation means the Federal Reserve has more leeway to continue its aggressive policies to bolster economic growth. If there were signs that inflation was picking up, the Fed might be forced to raise interest rates.

The index declined largely because gas prices dropped 6 percent, and the price of home heating oil fell by the most in almost four years.

Food prices also fell 0.8 percent, the most since May 2011. Half of the decline was because of lower vegetable prices, a highly volatile category. Meat prices dropped 2.3 percent.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices ticked up 0.1 percent in April, from March. Pharmaceutical costs also rose 0.1 percent.

Prices for cars and pickup trucks, men’s clothing, tires and computers all declined.

Over all, wholesale prices have increased just 0.6 percent over the last 12 months. That is the smallest yearly gain since July and down from a 1.7 percent pace just two months ago.

Core prices have risen only 1.7 percent in the last 12 months and are just below the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target.

Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said wholesale prices may fall further as declining prices for many commodities work their way through the supply chain. Slowing manufacturing output could also weigh on prices.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/business/economy/wholesale-prices-fall-again-while-inflation-remains-low.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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