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US producer prices rise moderately in April

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US producer prices rose moderately in April, but underlying inflation pressures at the factory gate appeared to be picking up.

[WASHINGTON] US producer prices rose moderately in April, but underlying inflation pressures at the factory gate appeared to be picking up.

The Labour Department said on Thursday its producer price index for final demand increased 0.2 per cent last month after jumping 0.6 per cent in March. In the 12 months through April, the PPI increased 2.2 per cent, matching March's rise.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the PPI gaining 0.2 per cent in April and increasing 2.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services increased 0.4 per cent last month. That was the largest rise since January 2018 after being unchanged in March. The so-called core PPI increased 2.2 per cent in the 12 months through April after rising 2.0 per cent in March.

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Price pressures have remained moderate despite a strong economy and tightening labour market. The Federal Reserve's preferred inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index increased 1.6 per cent in the year to March, the smallest gain in 14 months, from 1.7 per cent in February. The US central bank last week kept interest rates unchanged and signaled little desire to adjust monetary policy anytime soon. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said inflation had been "somewhat weaker," but believed the softer readings "may wind up being transient."

Last month, wholesale energy prices rose 1.8 per cent after jumping 5.6 per cent in March. Goods prices increased 0.3 per cent last month after surging 1.0 per cent in March.

Wholesale food prices fell 0.2 per cent in April. Core goods prices were unchanged after rising 0.2 per cent in March.

The cost of services edged up 0.1 per cent in April after increasing 0.3 per cent in the prior month. Prices for healthcare services increased 0.3 per cent last month. Those healthcare costs feed into the core PCE price index.

REUTERS