Producer Price Index: Wholesale Inflation Rises to 1.6% in August
Wholesale inflation rose more than expected in August as producer prices increased for a second straight month. Here is the latest news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The producer price index for final demand was up 0.7% month-over-month, its largest monthly increase since June 2022 and higher than the expected 0.4% increase (s.a.). On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, this month's headline PPI accelerated to 1.6% year-over-year, up from last month's 0.8% yearly increase and above the forecast of 1.2%.
Core PPI (excluding food and energy) for final demand was up 0.2% month-over-month (s.a.). On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, core PPI slowed down to 2.2% year-over-year from last month's 2.4% yearly increase and above the forecast of 1.2%. Both readings were consistent with their respective forecasts.
Below is a chart of the historical series with a callout to the most recent 12 months.
Producer Price Index: Finished Goods
The BLS shifted its focus to its new "final demand" series in 2014, a shift I support. However, the data for these series are only constructed back to November 2009 for headline and April 2010 for core. Since our focus is on longer-term trends, we continue to track the legacy PPI for finished goods, which the BLS also includes in its monthly updates. We will see in a later overlay chart that the final demand and finished goods indexes are highly correlated.
The August PPI for finished goods was up 2.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted, up from last month's 0.3% increase. On an annual basis, headline PPI for finished goods is currently at 2.1% year-over-year, up from -0.9% last month. (seasonally adjusted)
Core PPI for finished goods is up 0.2% month-over-month, unchanged from last month. On an annual basis, core PPI for finished goods is currently at 3.6% year-over-year, down from last month's 3.9% increase. (seasonally adjusted)
Producer Price Index (PPI) vs. Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Both PPI and CPI illustrate monthly price changes however, as their names suggest, the Producer Price Index measures price changes from the producer perspective whereas the Consumer Price Index measures price changes from the consumer perspective. PPI is thought to be a leading indicator of consumer inflation because, for the most part, when producers pay more for goods and services they are likely to pass along those higher costs to the consumer. With that being said, during the last recession producers were unable to pass along price increases, demonstrating the higher volatility of core PPI than core CPI.
The Fed has been in a tightening cycle to tackle high inflation, among other things. Inflation has eased over the last year but the threat of a resurgence hangs in the air and thus, the two big questions remain: "Will the Fed continue to raise rates?" and "Will there be a recession?".
This article was originally written by Doug Short. From 2016-2022, it was improved upon and updated by Jill Mislinski. Starting in January 2023, AP Charts pages will be maintained by Jennifer Nash at VettaFi | Advisor Perspectives
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