Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=164754
Story Retrieval Date: 5/19/2013 8:04:18 PM CST
This decrease follows a 0.7 percent rise in March and a 0.6 percent decline in February, according to BLS data.
Economists expected a 0.2 percent decrease in the PPI, according to a Bloomberg LP survey.
The PPI measures the average change in selling prices charged by domestic producers of goods and services, and is a commonly-watched precursor to the Consumer Price Index, which measures price changes from a buyer’s point of view and will be released Wednesday.
Richard DeKaser, president of Woodley Park Research, an economic consulting firm in Washington, D.C., said this indicates “very moderate inflation at the core,” looking past food and energy. The PPI for April was in line with his own expectations.DeKaser said “favorable developments” with respect to energy, specifically gasoline and crude prices declining, accounted for a 0.8 percent decrease in finished energy goods.
“Food prices were very weak,” DeKaser said, explaining that unusually cold weather resulted in huge price increases for food in March, and the prices for finished foods were closer to normal last month after the “post-blizzard price hike.” Lower prices for eggs also contributed to the overall 0.2 percent decline in finished consumer foods.
“The underlying trend is stability at low levels, with scant evidence of any upward pressures,” DeKaser said.
Bill Hummer, chief economist at Wayne Hummer Wealth Management in Chicago, said the nearly flat number was “encouraging.”
“Inflation has been performing pretty much as you expect in still slow economy with a lot of unemployment,” Hummer said.
Expecting the current trend to continue, Hummer said he thinks wholesale prices will stay under control and consequently, the Federal Reserve will not have to tighten monetary policy right now.
“Though it hasn’t been explicitly affirmed, we think an economic recovery has been underway for a few months,” Hummer said.
DeKaser also said he believes the recession is “well in the rear view mirror.” Though he said inflation is generally a lagging economic indicator, he does expect improvement to be solid over the rest of the year.
Year-over-year, April’s figure is down from last April’s 0.6 percent increase in the PPI.
The PPI for intermediate goods, or final products that are used in the production of other goods, rose 0.8 percent in April, its seventh consecutive monthly rise. Higher prices for steel mill products, basic organic chemicals, electric power and natural cheese were factors in the increase. Prices of crude goods decreased 1.2 percent in April, entirely the result of natural gas prices, which fell nearly 20 percent during the month.