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Economy in Brief

PPI Goosed By Food & Light Trucks
by Tom Moeller April 22, 2004

Finished producer prices jumped 0.5% higher last month following a 0.1% February uptick. The surge matched consensus expectations. The core PPI also rose a moderate 0.2% following the 0.1% February rise. A 0.1% increase in the core PPI had been the Consensus expectation.

Finished food prices jumped 1.5% (5.3% y/y) in March. Pricing strength during the last year has been broad based. Energy prices rose 0.6% (-0.4% y/y)

Finished consumer goods prices surged 0.7% after the tame 0.1% increase in February. Less food & energy finished consumer goods prices rose 0.3% (0.6% y/y following no change in February. Consumer durable prices rose 0.6% (+0.4% y/y) after a 0.2% February drop. Core non-durable prices fell 0.1% (+0.7% y/y) after 0.2% increases in the prior two months.

Finished capital goods prices rose 0.3% (0.8% y/y) after no change in February. That gain was fueled by a 0.8% (-1.6% y/y) recovery in light truck prices after a 1.9% February drop.

Intermediate goods prices again were strong, rising 0.7%. Core intermediate prices climbed 0.6% (2.9% y/y) led by an 8.6% jump in plywood prices (49.1% y/y) after a 15.2% spike in February.

Crude goods prices were tame as crude energy prices fell 6.1% (-26.5% y/y) after no change in February. Lower natural gas prices (-40.3% y/y) account for recent weakness. Prices for core crude goods jumped 2.7% as metals prices continued to spike higher.

"Decomposing Inflation" from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta can be found here.

Producer Price Index Mar Feb Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Finished Goods 0.5% 0.1% 1.4% 3.2% -1.3% 2.0%
  Core 0.2% 0.1% 0.7% 0.2% 0.1% 1.4%
Intermediate Goods 0.7% 0.9% 1.3% 4.7% -1.5% 0.4%
  Core 0.6% 0.9% 2.9% 2.0% -0.5% -0.1%
Crude Goods 0.7% 2.5% -1.6% 25.0% -10.6% 0.3%
  Core 2.7% 5.5% 29.8% 12.3% 3.8% -10.0%
Jobless Claims Down
by Tom Moeller April 22, 2004

Initial claims for jobless insurance fell 9,000 last week to 353,000 but fell short of Consensus expectations for a decline to 345,000 claims. Claims during the prior week were revised up slightly.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims rose to 347,000 (-19.5% y/y), the highest level since late February.

Continuing claims for unemployment insurance jumped 52,000 in the latest week but claims so far in April remained 1.5% below the March average.

The insured rate of unemployment was unchanged at 2.4% for the seventh consecutive week. This unemployment rate averaged 2.8% during 2002 and 2003.

Unemployment Insurance (000s) 4/17/04 4/10/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Initial Claims    353 362 -20.5% 403 404 406
Continuing Claims    -- 3,019 -15.3% 3,533 3,573 3,023
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