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Economy in Brief

U.S. PPI Eased
by Tom Moeller January 15, 2008

Finished producer prices retreated 0.1% last month after the 3.2% surge during November. The decline compared with an expectation for a 0.2% gain. A 0.2% gain in core producer prices matched expectations.

Energy prices fell 1.9% (+20.4% y/y) after the 14.1% surge in November. Gasoline prices fell 4.8% (+36.8% y/y) following the one-third rise in prices during November. Home heating oil prices were essentially unchanged (30.9% y/y) but that also followed a near one-third November surge. Natural gas prices fell for the third straight month and ticked down 0.1% (-1.3% y/y).

Finished consumer food prices were strong again and rose 1.1% (7.4% y/y) for the third 1.0%+ gain in the last four months.

Prices of finished consumer goods (incl. energy) fell 0.1% (+8.4% y/y) after a 4.0% November increase. Capital equipment prices rose 0.1% (1.3% y/y) after the 0.3% November increase. Prices for light trucks fell 0.3% (-0.9% y/y) following the 2.3% November jump.

Intermediate goods prices ticked down 0.2% after the 3.7% November surge as some of the earlier strength in energy prices backpedaled. Excluding food & energy prices were unchanged after the 1.0% November pop.

The gain in the crude materials PPI eased to 1.0% following the 8.7% November surge. Crude energy materials prices fell 0.7% (+17.1% y/y). The core crude materials PPI fell slightly as prices for copper (+1.2% y/y) and aluminum (-5.8% y/y) base scrap fell.

Why Do Gasoline Prices React to Things That Have Not Happened? from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Producer Price Index December November Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Finished Goods -0.1% 3.2%  6.8%  3.9% 2.9%  4.9% 
  Core 0.2% 0.4%  2.1% 1.9% 1.5% 2.4%
Intermediate Goods -0.2% 3.7% 7.5% 4.1% 6.4%  8.0%
  Core 0.0% 1.0% 3.3% 2.8% 6.0%  5.5%
Crude Goods 1.0%  8.7%   20.3% 12.2% 1.4% 14.6%
  Core -0.0% -0.5%  16.9% 15.8% 20.9% 4.9%
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