US wholesale prices rose by their equal quickest pace of 2019 in April, again underpinned by higher petrol prices.
The headline producer price index rose 2.2 per cent year-on-year in April, on par with the previous month’s rise, according to data on Thursday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and keeping it at its quickest pace since December.
The result was slightly short of the median forecast among economists for a 2.3 per cent rise.
The rise in the headline index was attributable to prices for petrol, which increased 5.9 per cent, the BLS said. Indices for meats, electric power, processed young chickens, pharmaceutical preparations, as well as search, detection, navigation and guidance systems, also pushed higher. Dragging on the index were prices for fresh and dry vegetables, which were down 11.6 per cent.
The core PPI reading, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose 2.4 per cent year-on-year in April, steady from March, and short of economists’ forecasts for 2.5 per cent.
A recent uptick in prices from February’s 13-month low may not do much to alter the Federal Reserve’s patient approach to monetary policy. The minutes from the Fed’s March meeting showed officials theorising that consumer expectations were holding inflation lower than the central bank’s 2 per cent target, and that the labour market may not be as tight as headline figures suggested.
Fed officials noted “significant uncertainties” over the outlook for the US and global economy, but said their view could “shift in either direction”, which some economists have suggested could mean an improvement in data puts the prospect of interest rate rises back on the cards.
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