Producer Prices fell 0.2% month over month in March and rose just 0.7% annually. Core-PPI, which excludes the volatile components of food, energy, and trade services, fell 0.2% in March and rose 1% annually. Energy prices fell 6.7% in March, dragging down the headline figure. Food prices remained flat, while trade service costs rose 1.4%.
- PPI fell -0.2% vs. -0.4% expected in March, with trade service price gains offsetting falling energy costs.
- PPI rose 0.7% annually last month, beating expectations of 0.5% annual gain.
- Though not the preferred gauge of inflation, the data supports the general view that inflation will miss the 2% target range this year.
The above-expectation drop in the PPI is bullish for the US dollar in the short-term, despite the multi-trillion dollar Fed stimulus package and the inflationary impact that may have down the line. Most of the drop in PPI came from falling energy prices, which have been severely affected due to the coronavirus pandemic. With airlines halting flights and people staying at home rather than driving to work or leisure activities, gasoline prices have plummeted, leading to a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia which has caused further reduced prices.
WTI crude oil prices since late February:
Feb 18: $53.74
Feb 23: $51.58
Feb 27: $44.94
Mar 02: $47.33
Mar 08: $31.47
Mar 09: $34.73
Mar 16: $27.33
Mar 17: $20.83
Mar 18: $25.91
Mar 19: $22.63
Mar 31: $20.31
Apr 02: $28.34
Apr 06: $23.63
— ICE (@ICE_Markets) April 8, 2020
OPEC nations are due to meet today, April 09, via teleconference to discuss a potential truce in the oil price war. Algeria’s energy minister Mohamed Arkab commented to predict a “fruitful” outcome of the meeting, leading to a surge in oil prices before the markets closed.
Other components of PPI saw upward activity. Final demand for construction rose 0.1% month over month in March and rose 3.7% annually. However, the construction industry, which usually does well in the warmer months, is likely to take a hit along with most other industries over the coming months. Coronavirus restrictions being put in place will limit the ability of workers to make progress, and there is likely to be reduced demand for construction due to the broader economic impact of the pandemic amid the rapidly collapsing US labor market. Overall, the PPI report aligns with expectations of tame inflation below the Fed’s 2% target range.
Spot gold prices have seen strong upward momentum today following the release of massive initial jobless claims applications which came in higher than expected at 6.06 million for the week ended April 02. Spot gold last traded at $1,681.95/oz, up 0.91%. Spot gold has had a daily high of $1,684.36/oz with a daily low of $1,645.08/oz. The strong momentum is likely a combined reaction to the staggering number of layoffs reported throughout the US along with the multi-trillion dollar Fed stimulus package which will likely lead to inflation of the US dollar, strengthening the use case for gold.