The Producer price index (PPI), which measures the inflation of prices paid by goods producers, fell 1.3% vs. a decline of 0.2% the month before and a drop of 0.5% expected. The drop in the PPI is the largest since records began in December 2009, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. On an unadjusted basis, the index fell 1.2%, the largest drop since unadjusted demand fell 1.3% in November 2015. Core PPI fell from 1.4% to 0.6%.
- PPI fell 1.3% in April vs. 0.2% decline in March and 0.5% decline expected. Core PPI fell from 1.4% to 0.6%.
- 80% of the drop in April was due to a 3.3% drop in prices for goods, while services fell a more modest 0.2%.
- PPI minus food, energy, and trade services dell 0.9%, the largest decline since that index began in September 2013. This index saw the first ever annual decline in April at 0.3%.
Final demand goods fell 3.3% in April, most of which was due to a 19% plunge in final demand energy prices. Final demand goods minus food and energy fell 0.4%. Gasoline prices fell 56.6% amid the oil war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, precipitated by reduced demand for gasoline due to coronavirus travel restrictions. This marks the largest decrease in gasoline since the beginning of that series of records in 1947.
Indexes for jet fuel, diesel, organic chemicals, heating oil, and corn also fell lower, while prices for beef and veal rose 12.6%. This is also likely due to supply chain disruption as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Indexes for distilled and bottled liquor as well as electric power also saw increases.
US PPI Final Demand Year over Year (April) pic.twitter.com/a9x5IUcTOd
— Eric Basmajian (@EPBResearch) May 13, 2020
Final demand services saw a 0.2% drop in prices last month following a 0.2% increase the month before. Final demand services minus trade, transportation, and warehousing fell 0.9%, and the index for transportation and warehousing services fell 3.5%. Many fulfillment centers and warehouse firms have suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak, with restrictions and delays worldwide on non-essential items. Trade services saw a 1.6% increase in price.
Prices for portfolio management saw a major drop at 12%, and indexes for hospital outpatient care, apparel, footwear, accessories, airline passenger services, and traveler accommodation services also ticked downward. Prices for fuels and lubricants rose a massive 41.6%, while inpatient care and the wholesaling of chemicals and related products also saw increased prices.
Gold prices have ticked upward following the release of the PPI report. Spot gold last traded at $1,709.60/oz, up 0.33% with a high of $1716.69/oz and a low of $1,698.86/oz. Overall, gold prices have seen a muted reaction to the major drop in PPI, with the markets arguably becoming desensitized to major drops in economic indexes due to the stunted global economy. While the data points to deflationary pressures in the near-term, the massive stimulus packages rolled out by the Federal Reserve as part of the ongoing monetary easing policies are likely to create net inflation overall in the future.