Wholesale Vegetables Price Index Spiked 38% Last Month As Key Inflation Marker Rose More Than Expected

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new inflation data Friday for wholesale prices with a 0.3% rise in November, part of a 7.4% increase in the previous 12 months. Wholesale prices can be a leading indicator of consumer inflation.

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This rise surpassed experts’ expectations and was led in part by a 38.1% surge in November in the price of vegetables.

“The November advance in prices for final demand goods was led by a 38.1-percent jump in the index for fresh and dry vegetables,” BLS said. “Prices for chicken eggs; meats; canned, cooked, smoked, or prepared poultry; and tobacco products also moved higher. Conversely, the gasoline index fell 6.0 percent. Prices for diesel fuel, residential natural gas, and primary basic organic chemicals also declined.”

The higher prices dampened hopes that the recent spike in inflation was over since the price hikes have decreased in recent months. The latest data still feature much lower increases than some other months in the last year.

“In November, most of the increase in the index for final demand is attributable to a 0.4-percent advance in prices for final demand services,” BLS said. “The index for final demand goods inched up 0.1 percent. Prices for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services moved up 0.3 percent in November after rising 0.2 percent in October. For the 12 months ended in November, the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services increased 4.9 percent.”

Liz Ann Sonders, Chief Investment Strategist at Charles Schwab, said it was “notable that trend for core [inflation] was moving down from August [through] October, but reversed higher in November.”

Producer prices can be broken into goods and services. For services, some prices far outpaced others.

“About one-third of the November rise in the index for final demand services can be traced to prices for securities brokerage, dealing, investment advice, and related services, which jumped 11.3 percent,” BLS said. “The indexes for machinery and vehicle wholesaling, loan services (partial), fuels and lubricants retailing, portfolio management, and long-distance motor carrying also moved higher. Conversely, prices for transportation of passengers (partial) fell 5.6 percent. The indexes for automobile and automobile parts retailing and for traveler accommodation services also decreased.”

Final demand goods prices varied by sector as well.

“The index for final demand goods inched up 0.1 percent in November following a 0.6-percent rise in October,” BLS said. “A 3.3-percent increase in prices for final demand foods was a major factor in the November advance. The index for final demand goods less foods and energy moved up 0.3 percent. In contrast, prices for final demand energy decreased 3.3 percent.”

Left-leaning economists heralded the numbers as good news.

“Odd that I’m seeing almost no commentary on this AM’s PPI report,” said Economist Paul Krugman, “More or less in line with expectations, but core consistent with view that the inflation surge is mostly behind us…”

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