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Economy in Brief

U.S. PPI Declines But Core Remains Firm
by Tom Moeller  May 11, 2012

The producer price index for finished goods fell 0.2% during April following an unrevised no-change in March. Consensus expectations were for prices to remain unchanged. Core pricing power continued to firm with the economy's recovery. The PPI less food & energy matched expectations and rose 0.2% after March's 0.3% rise. The y/y gain of 2.7% compared to 2.4% during all of last year and 1.2% in 2010.

A 1.4% decline (-0.6% y/y) in energy prices accounted for the unchanged PPI last month. Gasoline prices fell 1.7% (+1.9% y/y) while home heating oil costs dropped 3.4% (+1.3% y/y). Also falling were residential gas prices by 3.1% (-13.6% y/y) but electricity costs rose 0.3% (0.8% y/y). Food prices continued upward by 0.2% (2.5% y/y) reflecting a 17.3% spike in fresh eggs (-10.5% y/y) and a 4.3% surge in beef & veal (7.8% y/y).

Finished consumer goods prices fell 0.3% (+1.9% y/y) after a 0.1% March slip. Less food & energy, consumer goods prices rose 0.2% (3.3% y/y). Within the components, men's apparel prices rose 8.5% y/y while women's clothing costs increased just 1.1% y/y. Household appliance prices rose 4.3% since April of 2011 and passenger car prices rose an increased 1.2% y/y. Capital equipment prices rose again by 0.2% last month and by a steady 2.0% year-to-year.

Intermediate goods prices fell 0.5% (+1.0% y/y) with the drop in energy prices. Energy costs were off 2.7% last month, unchanged y/y, while food prices rose 0.4% (1.9% y/y). Core-intermediate prices rose 0.2% and by a reduced 1.4% y/y. Crude materials prices fell 4.4% last month and were down 7.6% year-to-year. Energy prices declined 6.8% (-16.3% y/y) while food prices were off 3.5% (-1.2% y/y). Prices less food & energy eased 1.8% and were down 3.6% versus last year.

The PPI data are contained in Haver's USECON database with further detail in PPI and PPIR. The expectation figure is available in the AS1REPNA database.

Producer Price Index (%) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Finished Goods -0.2 0.0 0.4 1.9 6.0 4.2 -2.5
 Less Food & Energy 0.2 0.3 0.2 2.7 2.4 1.2 2.6
  Food 0.2 0.2 -0.1 2.5 6.3 3.9 -1.4
  Energy -1.4 -1.0 1.3 -0.6 15.7 13.6 -17.6
Intermediate Goods -0.5 0.7 0.7 1.1 9.1 6.4 -8.4
 Less Food & Energy 0.2 0.6 1.0 1.4 6.2 4.3 -4.2
Crude Materials -4.4 -2.5 0.4 -7.3 17.4 21.4 -30.3
 Less Food & Energy -1.8 1.1 -0.3 -4.0 18.5 32.5 -23.3
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