With energy prices falling in the month of March, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing that producer prices for the month unexpectedly came in unchanged.
The Labor Department said its producer price index was flat in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February. Economists had been expecting the index to increase by 0.3 percent.
The lack of price growth came as a 1.0 percent drop in energy prices offset increases in prices for food, light motor trucks, passenger cars and soaps and other detergents.
A notable drop in gasoline prices contributed to the decrease in energy prices, with gas prices falling by 2.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. The Labor Department noted that gasoline prices jumped by 7.5 percent on an unadjusted basis.
Excluding food and energy prices, the core producer price index rose by 0.3 percent in March after edging up by 0.2 percent in February. The core index had been expected to increase by 0.2 percent.
The bigger than expected increase in core prices was due in large part to the increase in prices for light motor trucks, which rose by 0.7 percent.
Compared to the same month a year ago, the headline producer price index was up by 2.8 percent in March compared to the 3.3 percent increase in February.
Core producer prices increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in March, reflecting a modest deceleration from the 3.0 percent annual growth seen in February.
Friday morning, the Labor Department is scheduled to release a separate report on consumer prices in the month of March.
Economists expect consumer prices to increase by 0.3 percent in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February. Core prices are expected to rise by 0.2 percent after edging up by 0.1 percent in the previous month.
by RTT Staff Writer
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