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Economy in Brief

PPI Again Boosted by Petroleum
by Tom Moeller April 19 2005

The Producer Price Index for finished goods rose 0.7% in March, the largest one month rise since November and surpassed Consensus expectations for a 0.6% gain. Excluding food & energy prices, however, the PPI rose 0.1% for the second consecutive month. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.2% increase.

Finished energy prices advanced 3.3% (15.3% y/y) as gasoline prices jumped 12.3% (31.9% y/y) and fuel oil prices rose 16.1% (55.8% y/y). In April, prices for crude petroleum and for refined petroleum products are down versus March.

Core finished consumer goods prices rose 0.1% (2.6% y/y). Consumer durable goods prices fell by 0.1% (1.6% y/y) for the second consecutive monthly decline. Passenger cars fell again (+1.1% y/y) and home electronic equipment prices were off 0.2% (-4.0% y/y). Household appliance prices rose 0.3% (1.8% y/y).

Core consumer nondurable goods prices rose 0.1% (3.3% y/y) and capital goods prices increased 0.3% (+2.7% y/y). Finished food prices rose 0.3% (3.8% y/y).

Intermediate goods prices posted the largest increase since October. The 1.0% advance reflected a 3.7% (16.7% y/y) gain in energy prices. Core intermediate prices rose 0.3% though plywood prices fell (-13.9% y/y) as did hardwood lumber prices (-0.8% y/y).

Crude prices jumped 4.3% on the strength of surging oil prices, up 5.5% (28.4% y/y). Core crude prices rose for the first month in four. The 1.0% increase reflected price jumps for copper (15.9% y/y) & aluminum (8.9% y/y) base scrap. During the last thirty years "core" crude prices have been a fair indicator of industrial sector activity with a 48% correlation between the six month change in core crude prices and the change in factory sector industrial production.

Inflation Targeting under Commitment and Discretion from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

Producer Price Index Mar Feb Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Finished Goods 0.7% 0.4% 4.9% 3.6% 3.2% -1.3%
  Core 0.1% 0.1% 2.6% 1.5% 0.2% 0.1%
Intermediate Goods 1.0% 0.7% 8.4% 6.6% 4.6% -1.5%
  Core 0.3% 0.5% 7.6% 5.7% 2.0% -0.5%
Crude Goods 4.3% -1.6% 10.8% 17.6% 25.1% -10.6%
  Core 1.0% -3.0% 3.4% 26.5% 12.4% 3.8%
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