PPI surprise

US producer prices rise more than expected

By Ahmed Azzam | @3zzamous | 14 March 2024

Market close
  • Producer prices jump, adding to signs of persisting inflation

  • Retail sales miss forecasts after steep drop in prior month

Treasury yields have shown notable volatility, while futures have seen a reduction in earlier gains. The currency market observes a steadied dollar, amidst significant commodity movements. Notably, oil prices maintain their substantial increase from the past five weeks, whereas gold experiences a downturn.

February witnessed an unexpected rise in prices paid to U.S. producers, primarily influenced by escalating fuel and food costs, signaling sustained inflationary pressures. This period marked a more modest increase in U.S. retail sales than anticipated, following a significant decline at the year's outset. These dynamics cast shadows on the robustness of consumer expenditure.

US PPI jump, adding to signs of persisting inflation

February's figures reveal a significant uptick in producer prices, marking the most substantial increase in half a year. This rise is attributed to escalating costs across fuel and food sectors, underscoring persistent inflationary challenges. According to the Labor Department, the producer price index (PPI) for final demand climbed 0.6% month-over-month, with an annual increase of 1.6% — the most pronounced year-over-year growth observed since September.

When examining the core PPI, which excludes the more volatile food and energy sectors, there was a 0.3% monthly advancement and a 2% increase from the previous year. These statistics highlight the complex scenario Federal Reserve officials face as they strive for more substantial progress in their inflation mitigation efforts. Recent consumer price index data further complicates this picture, showing core inflation rates surpassing projections for the second consecutive month and reinforcing the expectation that the Fed will delay any interest rate reductions.

In conjunction with these inflationary indicators, recent retail sales data reveal a less-than-expected growth last month, after a sharp decline earlier in the year. This raises concerns about the ongoing strength of consumer spending. However, a positive note emerged as applications for jobless benefits fell to a three-week low, suggesting some resilience in the job market.

As Federal Reserve officials convene next week, the anticipation is for the benchmark rate to remain unchanged, reflecting the complex interplay of economic indicators and market responses.