Article Highlights

  • Producer prices increase 0.4 percent in November
  • PPI rises 3.1 percent year-on-year
  • Core PPI gains 0.4 percent; up 2.4 percent year-on-year
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U.S. producer prices rose in November as gasoline prices surged and the cost of other goods increased, leading to the largest annual gain in nearly six years.

The fairly strong report from the Labor Department on Tuesday suggested a broad acceleration in wholesale price pressures, which could assuage concerns among some Federal Reserve officials over persistently low inflation.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand increased 0.4 percent last month, advancing by the same margin for three straight months. In the 12 months through November, the PPI shot up 3.1 percent. That was the biggest gain since January 2012 and followed a 2.8 percent rise in October.

Economists had forecast the PPI rising 0.3 percent last month and increasing 2.9 percent from a year ago.

A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services rose 0.4 percent last month. The so-called core PPI had increased by 0.2 percent for two straight months. It rose 2.4 percent in the 12 months through November, the largest gain since the series started in August 2014, after increasing 2.3 percent in October.

The dollar advanced against a basket of currencies on the data, while prices for U.S. Treasuries fell. U.S. stock index futures were trading slightly higher.

The broad rise in producer prices supports views that weak inflation readings experienced through the first half of the year have probably run their course. Some Fed officials had worried that the factors that had held down inflation early in the year could become more persistent.

The Fed officials were due to gather for a two-day policy meeting. The U.S. central bank is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday, for a third time this year, with a robust labor market and strengthening economy expected to overshadow policymakers’ earlier concerns about tame inflation.

The central bank tracks the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, which has undershot the Fed’s 2 percent target for nearly 5-1/2 years.

Last month, gasoline prices surged 15.8 percent, the biggest gain since August 2009, after dropping 4.6 percent in October. Gasoline accounted for two thirds of the 1.0 percent increase in the final demand goods index. There were also increases in the prices of light motor trucks, pharmaceutical preparations, beef, residential electricity and jet fuel.

Wholesale food prices rose 0.3 percent in November after increasing 0.5 percent in October. Prices for services increased 0.2 percent last month after increasing 0.5 percent in October.

Core goods increased 0.3 percent in November, rising by the same margin for a third consecutive month. Prices for passenger cars increased 0.5 percent last month, the largest increase since December 2016, after being unchanged in October.

The cost of healthcare services was unchanged last month after rising 0.3 percent in October. Those costs feed into the Fed’s core PCE price index.