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US wholesale inflation sees biggest monthly gain in 4 years

[WASHINGTON] US wholesale inflation continued its upward trend in January, recording its largest monthly gain in more than four years, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department.

The Producer Price Index, which measures prices from the seller's perspective, rose 0.6 per cent in seasonally adjusted figures, which was the largest such gain since September 2012 and well above an analyst consensus forecast of 0.3 per cent.

Year over year, however, the figure was unchanged at 1.6 per cent, unadjusted.

The large month-to-month gain supports views among US monetary policymakers that further interest rate increases may be necessary in 2017. The central bank earlier this month left interest rates unchanged after raising them in December for the first time in a year.

The Federal Reserve during most of 2016 refrained from raising rates too quickly for fear of interrupting a fragile recovery but has taken a different view of the likely course of monetary policy in 2017, citing "uncertainty" as President Donald Trump's fiscal policies have yet to take shape.

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Tuesday's Labor Department figures also showed that upward price pressures were less apparent when the more volatile categories of food, fuel and trade were excluded.

By this measure, prices rose only 0.2 per cent in January, up a tenth of a point from December but matching November's increase. For the year, the measure rose only 1.6 per cent, down a tenth from the result recorded in December.


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