PhotoWholesale prices, or what the government calls the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand, headed higher last month as the cost of services rose.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the PPI was up a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in April after dipping 0.1%. For the 12 months ending in April, the PPI is up 2.5%, the largest increase since a 2.8% gain in the year ended February 2012.

Almost two-thirds of April's can be attributed to prices for services, which were up 0.4%. Goods prices climbed 0.5%.

The breakdown

More than a quarter of the advance services came from prices for securities brokerage, dealing, investment advice and related services, which shot up 6.6%. Costs of guestroom rental; loan services (partial); machinery, equipment, parts, and supplies wholesaling; portfolio management; and airline passenger services were also on the rise.

On the other hand, prices for fuels and lubricants retailing plunged 14.6%, with food & alcohol retailing and deposit services (partial) costs also declining.

The increase in the cost of goods came as food and energy prices climbed 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively. Cigarette prices were up 2.2%, while the costs of gasoline, fresh & dry vegetables, fresh fruits & melons, residential natural gas and pharmaceutical preparations were higher as well.

Conversely, the price of jet fuel fell 6.1%, and costs for carbon steel scrap and oilseeds also declined.

The “core” rate of inflation on the wholesale level, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, was 0.4%. On a year-over-year basis, the core rate is up 1.9%

The full report may be found on the BLS website.

Jobless claims

Another decline in weekly applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department reports in initial jobless claims were down by 2,000 in the week ending May 6 to a seasonally adjusted 236,000 after plunging 19,000 a week earlier.

The 4-week moving average considered a more accurate barometer of the job market due to its lack of volatility inched up 500 to 243,500.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.



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