Monday, October 5th6.8°C

US producer prices slipped 0.2 per cent in May in sign of tame inflation

WASHINGTON - The prices U.S. companies receive for their goods and services fell in May, offering evidence that inflation is mild.

The producer price index, which measures the cost of goods and services before they reach the consumer, dropped 0.2 per cent last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The decline was driven lower by cheaper food and gas, and follows two months of strong gains that had suggested inflation might be perking up after being dormant for two years.

In the past 12 months, producer prices have risen 2 per cent, matching the Federal Reserve's inflation target. That's down from an annual gain of 2.1 per cent in April.

"The underlying details of the report suggest that producer price inflation is still fairly contained despite the big increases in the last few months," Omair Sharif, an economist at RBS Securities, said in a research note.

Excluding the volatile food, energy and profit margin categories, core producer prices were unchanged in May. The result comes after a 0.3 per cent gain in each of the two preceding months. Core prices have risen 2 per cent in the past year.

Wholesale food prices fell 0.2 per cent after four months of steep increases. And wholesale gas prices dropped 0.9 per cent, suggesting consumers may see some relief at the gas pump in coming months.

Another reason producer prices fell: retailer and wholesaler profit margins declined 0.5 per cent after two months of strong gains.

The drop in profit margins comes after robust increases in April and March. Retailer and wholesaler profit margins had fallen in the winter as companies rolled out discounts to lure shoppers through the doors during harsh winter storms.

Wholesale prices rose 0.6 per cent in April and 0.5 per cent in May. Some of those increases have been passed onto consumers. The consumer price index, the most widely followed inflation measure, rose 2 per cent in April compared with 12 months earlier. That was the largest yearly increase since July.

The Federal Reserve prefers inflation at about 2 per cent as a guard against deflation, which occurs when prices actually fall. Deflation can also drag down wages and typically leads to recessions.

Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, has been mostly below 2 per cent for the past two years.

Consumers may like low prices, but weak inflation also occurs when the economy is sluggish. Wage growth has been meagre for the past four years, and unemployment remains at historically high levels. That limits consumer spending and makes it harder for businesses to raise prices.

Still, low inflation has enabled the Fed to pursue extraordinary stimulus programs to try and boost the economy. It has begun to unwind some of that stimulus, cutting its monthly bond purchases to $45 billion from $85 billion last year.

The bond purchases, intended to lower long-term interest rates, are expected to be trimmed by another $10 billion when Fed officials meet again next week.

The Canadian Press

Read more Business News

Recent Trending

Today's Market
S&P TSX13530.95+191.21
S&P CDNX529.88+4.32
S&P 5001979.15+27.79
CDN Dollar0.7634+0.0032
Natural Gas2.473+0.022

Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.215+0.000
QHR Technologies Inc1.21+0.02
Metalex Ventures0.06+0.00
Russel Metals22.30+0.82
Copper Mountain Mining0.49+0.07
Colorado Resources0.075-0.005
ReliaBrand Inc0.004-0.000
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.02+0.00
Mission Ready Services0.095+0.005
Decisive Dividend Corp3.55+0.06
Diamcor Mining0.90+0.02


2331327#116-4350 Eagles View
2 bedrooms 2 baths
more details
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading

Perfect (reno’d) home

Photo: Thinkstock.comHow many times have you found a home in the perfect location, but it needs too much work as per the home inspection? There is a great program available through most lenders that w...

Living beyond 100

Photo: ContributedThere was a time most careers involved an apprenticeship of one sort another. Some official, others involving years of servitude, and others time simply spent watching and emulating ...

5 Claim misconceptions

Photo: Thinkstock.comIf you have been hurt in an accident or as a result of medical negligence you will likely look to your friends and family for some advice on how to deal with the situation. These ...




Member of BC Press Council