The Producer Price Index rose 0.4% in June, after advancing 0.5% in May, the Labor Department said Wednesday, indicating that inflationary pressures could be on the rise.
Nearly 60% of the broad-based advance in June was attributable to energy prices, which climbed 2.4%, the agency said. The index for goods less foods and energy rose 0.4%, and the index for foods rose 0.6%.
According to The Wall Street Journal, producer prices grew at double the rate of economists’ expectations last month, largely reflecting stabilizing oil markets and higher food costs.
“An end to the plunge in energy prices is leading to a stabilization in inflation,” PNC senior economist Gus Faucher wrote in a research note.
That would be good news to the Federal Reserve, which is looking for inflation to firm gradually as it considers when to raise short-term interest rates, which have been near zero since December 2008, the WSJ said.
On Wednesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in her semiannual testimony to Congress that the central bank was on course to raise short-term U.S. interest rates this year as the domestic economy continues to improve.
The jump in producer prices also signals higher demand in the U.S. as the labor market continues to expand and the economy rebounds from the first quarter, when U.S. gross domestic product contracted at a 0.2% annual rate. Many economists estimate the economy grew at a 2% to 3% rate in the second quarter, which ended June 30.