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Economy in Brief

PPI Gains Broad
by Tom Moeller May 17, 2005

The Producer Price Index for finished goods rose 0.6% last month and again surpassed Consensus expectations which had been for a 0.4% increase. Excluding food & energy the PPI rose 0.3% in April, up sharply from the 0.1% gains during the prior two month's and also beat Consensus expectations for a 0.2% increase.

Prices for finished consumer goods less food & energy rose 0.2% (2.6% y/y), up from a 0.1% increase in March. Consumer durable goods prices increased 0.3% (1.9% y/y) following two months of decline as household appliance prices rose (2.0% y/y) along with furniture prices (3.8% y/y).

Capital goods prices increased for the second month (2.8% y/y) though computer prices continued to fall (-18.7% y/y) as did prices for light trucks (-0.5% y/y).

Finished energy prices jumped for the third consecutive month. The 2.1% (15.7% y/y) increase was led by higher prices for gasoline (28.9% y/y) and fuel oil (51.1% y/y). Finished food prices ticked up 0.1% (2.5% y/y) last month.

Intermediate goods prices again were strong, posting a 0.8% advance which reflected a 3.4% (18.8% y/y) spike in energy prices but the 0.2% monthly increase in core intermediate prices was the most moderate since 2003.

Crude prices surged another 2.7% again on the strength of energy prices, up 7.2% (32.6% y/y). The 0.8% gain in core crude prices was the second month of strength and reflected a 17.1% y/y gain in copper scrap, an 8.3% y/y increase in aluminum scrap and a 4.3% y/y rise in iron & steel 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.

Producer Price Index April March Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Finished Goods 0.6% 0.7% 4.8% 3.6% 3.2% -1.3%
  Core 0.3% 0.1% 2.6% 1.5% 0.2% 0.1%
Intermediate Goods 0.8% 1.0% 8.2% 6.6% 4.6% -1.5%
  Core 0.2% 0.3% 6.6% 5.7% 2.0% -0.5%
Crude Goods 2.7% 4.3% 11.8% 17.5% 25.1% -10.6%
  Core 0.8% 1.0% 8.4% 26.6% 12.4% 3.8%
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