Wholesale prices climb most since 2018, catching economists off guard
Over the past year, wholesale prices are up 2.1%
U.S. producer prices climbed last month at the fastest pace since October 2018 as higher prices for services more than offset a drop in the cost of energy.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that its producer price index, which measures inflationary pressures before they reach the consumer, jumped 0.5 percent in January after rising 0.2 percent in December. The monthly increase was much bigger than economists expected.
Over the past year, wholesale prices are up 2.1 percent.
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Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core producer inflation rose 0.5 percent in January from December and 1.7 percent from January 2019.
The Labor Department said much of the 0.7 percent January increase in services prices came from higher markups for clothes, jewelry, shoes and accessories.
Energy prices dropped 0.7 percent last month, pulled down by a 1.5 percent decrease in gasoline prices.
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Food prices rose 0.2 percent in January. But the price of chicken eggs plummeted 42.4 percent last month, the most in records dating back to 1937.
Last week, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices blipped up 0.2 percent last month and rose 2.5 percent over the past year. The Federal Reserve aims to keep annual consumer inflation around 2 percent.