U.S. Producer Prices Fell in July

By Sarah Chaney and David HarrisonFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

A gauge of U.S. business prices fell in July, another signal pointing to muted ?broader inflation pressure.

The producer-price index for final demand, which measures changes in the prices that U.S. companies receive for their goods and services, decreased a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in July from a month earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday.

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Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the index to rise 0.2% last month.

From a year earlier, prices advanced 1.9%.

The index for core prices, which excludes the often-volatile prices for food and energy, dropped 0.1% Economists had expected this measure to increase 0.2%. From a year earlier, core prices were up 1.8%.

Thursday's report showed producer prices were flat in July when excluding food, energy and a jumpy measure of wholesaler and retailer margins known as trade services.

Producer prices don't necessarily translate into what consumers pay, but PPI readings tend to be consistent with trends of other major inflation gauges.

?Inflation remaining persistently below the ?Fed's target could present a challenge to policy makers considering when next to raise the central bank's benchmark rate. Fed officials have raised the rate twice this year, and have penciled in one more increase.

"At this point, my assessment is that the conditions remain in place for inflation to gradually return over the next year or so to our symmetric goal of 2% on a sustained basis," said Loretta Mester, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland president, in a speech earlier this month. "These conditions include growth that's expected to be at or slightly above trend, continued strength in the labor market, and reasonably stable inflation expectations."

The Labor Department's producer-price index report can be accessed at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ppi.nr0.htm

Write to Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com and David Harrison at david.harrison@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 10, 2017 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT)