May 9, 2019 / 12:45 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. producer prices rise moderately in April

FILE PHOTO: A woman shops for produce inside a Whole Foods Market in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. producer prices rose moderately in April, but underlying inflation pressures at the factory gate appeared to be picking up.

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

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

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

Price pressures have remained moderate despite a strong economy and tightening labor market. The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index increased 1.6 percent in the year to March, the smallest gain in 14 months, from 1.7 percent in February.

The U.S. 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 percent after jumping 5.6 percent in March. Goods prices increased 0.3 percent last month after surging 1.0 percent in March.

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

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

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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