An estimate of U.S. prices ticked up in July, signaling inflationary pressures remain modest across the country’s economy.
The producer price index for final demand goods and services, those sold for personal consumption, business and government investment and exports, inched up 0.1 percent last month after rising 0.4 percent in June and falling 0.2 percent in May, the Labor Department said Friday.
Producer prices rose 1.7 percent from a year ago, compared to annual gains of 1.9 percent in June, 2 percent in May, and 2.1 percent in April.
“First, oil and gasoline prices fell over the month as geopolitical concerns faded somewhat,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. “Second, there is a general backdrop of low and steady inflation. Wage pressures remain soft, profit margins are solid, and businesses are reluctant to raise prices given still-recovering demand.”
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, producer prices rose 0.2 percent, as economists expected. Energy prices fell 0.6 percent, led with a drop in gasoline prices, and food prices rose 0.4 percent over the month. Transportation and warehousing prices rose 0.5 percent.
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“There are no signs that inflationary pressures are building,” Hoffman said. That means the Fed has plenty of time to keep interest rates low, likely until fall 2015, he said.
Based on increasing industrial acticity and spare capacity in factories diminishing, Capital Economics believes consumer prices will continue easing in the next few months but strengthen before the end of the year and into next year.