U.S. Producer Prices Flat in May

A gauge of U.S. business prices was flat in May, a signal that price pressures remained muted.

The producer-price index for final demand, measuring changes in the prices that U.S. companies receive for their goods and services, remained unchanged in May from the prior month, matching expectations of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

From a year earlier, prices advanced 2.4%.

The report showed energy prices fell 3% last month, the largest one-month decline since February 2016. Food prices fell 0.2% on the month.

Excluding often-volatile prices for food and energy, the index grew 0.3% in May from the prior month. Economists had expected a 0.1% gain. From a year earlier, those core prices were up 2.1%.

Offsetting falling food and energy prices was a 1.1% increase in the volatile trade services category, which measures margins received by wholesalers and retailers.

PPI is an inflation gauge that looks at prices businesses receive from customers, including consumers, other businesses and governments. As a result, changes in the index don't necessarily directly reflect what consumers pay. But PPI readings generally follow the same trends as other major inflation gauges.

Measures of consumer inflation have shown a slower year-over-year increase in prices in recent months. Despite concerns regarding weakening inflation, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise it's benchmark interest rate when it meets this week. Softening inflation could, however, influence policy makers considering additional increases later this year.

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 Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 13, 2017 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT)