December 16, 2011


US wholesale prices up 0.3% in November


As the price of food increased, mostly for vegetables and chicken, US wholesale costs rose in November.


The producer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% last month, the Labour Department said Thursday (Dec 15). Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had predicted a 0.1% rise.


The increase was driven by higher food prices, which rose 1.0% last month. The cost of dry and fresh vegetables jumped 11.5%, while the price of young chickens climbed 8% to mark the biggest increase in five years. Energy costs rose a scant 0.1% after falling 1.4% in October.


Minus the food and energy categories, so-called core wholesale prices rose 0.1%. The core index is viewed by the Federal Reserve as a more accurate gauge of long-term inflationary pressure because the price of food and energy are volatile month to month. Economists were expecting a 0.2% increase in the core rate.


Over the past 12 months, wholesale prices have risen 5.7%. That's the smallest over-year increase since March. Core prices have climbed a lesser 2.9% in the past 12 months, the lowest increase since June 2009.


The pullback in over-year wholesale costs reflects a decline in the price of oil and other essential commodities after they peaked in early summer. Wholesale prices could ease even further in coming months.


If that's the case, it could eventually translate into lower prices for retail goods and services, though the relationship between wholesale and consumer costs is inexact. Companies raise or lower prices for a variety of reasons.


On Friday, the government will issue its latest report on consumer prices. The consumer price index is forecast to be unchanged in November, according to a Marketwatch survey of economists.


The CPI has climbed 3.5% in the 12 months from October 2010 to October 2011, outstripping the increase in worker wages over the same period. Lower consumer prices would increase the standard of living.

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