Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The PPI is Down for June, But the Core Rate is Up Due to Higher Car and Truck Prices

The PPi is not a key number for the Fed, but it does give a feel for how the intermediate prices are doing, from Market Watch. Also the BLS press release is available so you can get it straight from the horse's mouth.

Wholesale prices fell 0.2% in June as food and energy prices declined after four months of hefty increases, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.

The PPI is up 3.3% in the past 12 months.

Food prices sank 0.8%, the second straight decline. . . . .Energy prices fell 1.1% as gasoline prices dropped 3.9%. Natural gas prices rose 2.6%.

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the core PPI rose 0.3%, a tenth higher than the 0.2% gain expected. It's the biggest gain since February.

The larger-than-expected gain in core prices was largely due to large increases in car and truck prices, which rose more than 1%. Prices of capital equipment rose 0.3%. Prices of consumer goods fell 0.4%.

One key indicator of inflationary pressures fell to a three-year low. The core intermediate goods PPI rose 0.4% in June and was up just 2.8% in the past year, the smallest gain since February 2004.

The PPI is not the Fed's focus; the real issue is what consumer prices do. The PPI measures prices in the production pipeline, not at the retail level

The core PCE price index has now risen less than 2% in the past 12 months, within the Fed's unofficial "comfort zone." But the Fed has said that no "sustainable" moderation in inflation has been convincingly demonstrated, a clear signal that the Fed wants inflation not just to fall but to stay low.

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