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US wholesale price inflation slows in October

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US wholesale gasoline prices continued to rise, but produer prices gains eased, which President Joe Biden said is good news for the economy./AFP
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Nov 16, 2022 - 10:32 AM

WASHINGTON — US wholesale prices continued to rise in October but at a slower pace than in the prior month, according to official data Tuesday which will add to rising hopes that inflation has peaked.

President Joe Biden cheered the news, which came on top of last week’s report showing a slowdown in consumer prices, adding traction to growing expectations the Federal Reserve will be able to dial back its aggressive increases in borrowing costs in the battle against inflation that hit a 40-year high.

The producer price index rose just 0.2 percent compared to September, the Labor Department reported, which was half the pace economists had expected.

And annual PPI slowed to 8.0 percent in October, the data showed, down from 8.5 percent in the prior month.

“There’s more good news for our economy this morning, and more indications that we are starting to see inflation moderate,” Biden said in a statement.

He noted that “food inflation slowed — a welcome sign for families’ grocery bills as we head into the holidays,” and credited his administration’s policies.

“It will take time to get inflation back to normal levels — and we could see setbacks along the way — but we will keep at it,” Biden said.

Food and energy prices, which have soared this year in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, continue to pressure the overall index.

Wholesale energy prices, especially gasoline, were the biggest driver, jumping 2.7 percent in the month and up 21.8 percent compared to October 2021, according to the report.

Food prices have risen 12.7 percent over the past year, and there were big jumps last month in costs for eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables.

The prices of goods excluding volatile food and energy dipped slightly last month, and are up a more modest 6.6 percent over the year.

However, passenger car prices fell, the report said.

Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics noted the improving trend in inflation pressures.

“Producer prices, while high, are off their peaks,” she said in an analysis. “The improvement in the October inflation data, if it persists, supports the Fed’s expectation of a step down in the pace of increases going forward.”

The Fed has moved aggressively this year to cool the economy and tamp down inflation, hiking the benchmark interest rate six times. But central bankers increasingly have said it will soon be time to slow the pace of those increases.

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