November Producer Prices Rise, Trend Still Weak


U.S. producer prices unexpectedly rose in November as the cost of services increased, but the underlying trend continued to point to weak inflation pressures.

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The Labor Department said on Friday its producer price index advanced 0.3 percent after falling 0.4 percent in October.

In the 12 months through November, the PPI declined 1.1 percent after sliding 1.6 percent in October. November marked the 10th straight 12-month decrease in the index.

Economists had forecast the PPI unchanged last month and sliding 1.4 percent from a year ago.

Dollar strength and continued declines in oil prices amid a glut and slowing global growth have dampened price pressures, leaving inflation running persistently below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target.

But given a tightening labor market, economists expect the U.S. central bank to raise its short-term interest rate next Wednesday for the first time in nearly a decade.

Producer inflation is likely to remain weak after a report on Thursday showed import prices fell in November for the ninth time this year.

In November, services increased 0.5 percent after falling 0.3 percent the prior month. Nearly 80 percent of the increase was attributed to margins received by wholesalers and retailers, which jumped 1.2 percent.

Within services, more than 40 percent of the increase was due to a 6.2 percent increase in margins for apparel, jewelry, footwear, and accessories retailing. There were also gains in machinery and equipment wholesaling, loan services, fuels and lubricant retailing, and portfolio management.

However, prices for securities brokerage, dealing, investment advice, and related services fell 3.9 percent.

Energy prices fell 0.6 percent after being unchanged in October. Wholesale food prices rose 0.3 percent in November after slipping 0.8 percent the prior month.

A key measure of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services edged up 0.1 percent last month after dipping 0.1 percent in October. The so-called core PPI was up 0.3 percent in the 12 months through November.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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