US producer prices rose 0.1% in July and 1.8% annually in August, according to a report released on Thursday by the Labor Department.
Core-producer prices, which exclude food and fuel prices, saw the smallest gain in August in two years, pointing to stabilizing inflation rates. Core-prices rose 2.3% annually in August, slightly above expectations, following a 2.1% gain the month before.
- Producer prices rose 0.1% MoM in July and 1.8% annually in August, while core-prices rose 2.3% annually in August.
- Annual producer price gains have slowed since late 2018 due to the ongoing US/China trade war and the global economic slowdown.
- The Labor Department report indicates tame inflation pressure, which will likely support the stance that the Fed should cut benchmark interest rates for the second time this year at next week’s meeting.
The report on producer prices is monitored to gauge potential price pressures for consumers, as producer price gains or drops are typically passed on to the consumer . The report showed that wholesale prices of goods excluding food and fuel were flat in August on a monthly basis compared to July, while the annual gain was 2.3%, at the high end of market expectations.
Services for final demand climbed 0.3% with an increase in gaming receipts, guestroom rentals, and insurance. Costs involved in arranging freight and cargo shipments saw a solid increase of 4.8% in August from the month before, the highest reading since record-keeping for that metric began in 2009. The rise in these costs is likely related to the trade war’s impact on the shipping industry and supply chains.
Meanwhile, a separate measure of producer prices which strips out the volatile component of trade services, as well as food and energy services, rose 0.4% in August from the month before, the largest increase since April. Annually, prices rose 1.9% in August after July’s annual increase of 1.7%, which was the smallest gain in over two years. Energy prices dropped 2.5% in August, and food costs dropped 0.6%, the biggest drop since January.
While headline and core PPI growth increased sequentially, the increase was driven by services.
The year over year growth rate decelerated for goods and construction.
Services was the only major component to increase YoY. pic.twitter.com/xvpBUIEp7Q
— Eric Basmajian (@EPBResearch) September 11, 2019
Though slightly above expectations, the inflation data supports the case for the Fed to introduce further rate cuts at the meeting scheduled next week. The least volatile metric of produce prices shows a stabilization following a two-year low in price gains, potentially indicating stable, tame inflation pressures.
The Fed has a 2% annual inflation target, and the latest measure of its preferred metric for inflation pressure, core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) indicated inflation of 1.6% in July. With inflation below the target, and perhaps now stabilizing, rate cuts may be effective in mitigating potential recessionary pressures emerging in the US economy.
Financial markets are expecting a rate cut at the end of this month, with trade tensions and a struggling manufacturing industry influencing opinions. The trade war escalated this month as US tariffs on Chinese goods were broadened again, leading to concerns that the escalation will impact the longest ever period of economic expansion in the US which now stands at 11 years. However, the labor market and robust consumer spending continue to support the wider economy for the time being.
Gold prices have seen little reaction to the news so far. Spot gold last traded at $1,495.20/oz, up 0.33% with a high of $1,496.21/oz and a low of $1,494.65/oz. Managing director of Forexlive.com, Adam Button, stated that the core-producer prices report is unlikely to lead the Fed away from implementing rate cuts, saying “Core PPI is running a bit hot, but it's a long way from spilling into overall inflation.”