The Economy

Producer Prices Rise, Easing Deflationary Concerns

Labor Department numbers for May should bolster the argument for an interest rate increase later this year.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJune 12, 2015

U.S. producer prices had their biggest gain since September 2012, easing concerns about possible deflation and bolstering the possibility that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year.

The Labor Department said Friday its Producer Price Index for final demand rose 0.5% in May, after falling 0.4% in April. Sixty percent of the May increase was due to the 17% jump in the gasoline index. Prices for diesel fuel, chicken eggs, jet fuel, pharmaceutical preparations, and motor vehicles also moved higher. Margins for food and alcohol retailing rose 4.2%.

According to Reuters, the rise in producer prices should support the argument for a rate increase later this year, particularly if the Fed’s 2% inflation rate target is met.

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“This report essentially confirms that the disinflationary impulse in headline prices, which has been brought about by the collapse in energy prices, is beginning to abate as crude prices shift higher,” TD Securities deputy chief economist Millan Mulraine told Reuters.

Producer prices have been weighed down by a sharp decline in crude oil prices since last year and a strong dollar, Reuters said. Now that oil prices are rising, downward pressure on inflation is easing, but additional increases in producer prices are likely to be gradual because of the dollar’s strength.

The indexes for apparel, jewelry, footwear, and accessories retailing; television, video, and photographic equipment and supplies retailing; inpatient care; and certain residential real estate services also moved higher, the Labor Department said.

Conversely, prices for services related to securities brokerage and dealing fell 7.4%. The indexes for machinery and equipment wholesaling; certain loan services; health, beauty, and optical goods retailing; and wireless telecommunication services also declined.