US July producer prices jump again

WASHINGTON - U.S. wholesale prices took another unexpectedly steep jump in July and shot up at the fastest year-on-year rate in 27 years, according to a government report on Tuesday that was certain to fan fears about a potential surge in inflation.

By (Reuters)

Published: Tue 19 Aug 2008, 7:47 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:55 AM

The Labor Department's Producer Price Index, which measures prices at the factory door, climbed 1.2 percent after a 1.8 percent gain in June. But so-called core producer prices, which exclude food and energy, jumped 0.7 percent in July after a 0.2 percent June increase.

The steep jump in core prices rattled financial markets, driving stock futures down and causing futures markets to scale up the odds for an interest-rate hike this year by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The dollar gained in value on the prospect of higher rates.

The rise in monthly core producer prices was the strongest since November 2006 and implied that price gains were spreading outside the food and energy sectors, certain to trouble Fed policy-makers who want to prevent price pressure from gaining too strong a foothold.

Analysts said some of the July price jump was likely caused by higher prices for motor vehicles, which was unlikely to be sustained given that sales are sluggish.

"There is evidence of pass-through of wholesale prices to retail, but manufacturers are being squeezed for their cost of inputs without much success in passing them through to customers," said Dana Saporta, an economist with Dresdner Kleinwort Securities LLC in New York.

Core producer prices rose 3.5 percent on a year-over-year basis in July, the strongest increase since mid-1991.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected producer prices to rise 0.6 percent in July, half the actual increase, and had forecast that core prices would be up only 0.2 percent.

Energy prices rose 3.1 percent in July, only half of June's 6 percent jump but were up 28 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Food costs advanced just 0.3 percent in July following a 1.5 percent June increase and were 8.7 percent higher than a year ago.

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