PPI: U.S. Wholesale Inflation Rises, Matching Expectations In September

by Ike Obudulu Posted on October 10th, 2018

Washington, D.C., USA: The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 0.2 percent in September, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Final demand prices declined 0.1
percent in August and were unchanged in July. (See table A.) On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index advanced 2.6 percent for the 12 months ended in September.

In September, the rise in the final demand index can be traced to a 0.3-percent increase in prices for final demand services. In contrast, the index for final demand goods decreased 0.1 percent.

The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services moved up 0.4 percent in September, the largest rise since a 0.5-percent increase in January. For the 12 months ended in September, prices for final demand less foods, energy, and trade services advanced 2.9 percent.

The monthly increase in the broad index stemmed partly from a 1.8 percent rise in transportation and warehousing services, a record in data back to 2009. That reflected a 5.5 percent jump in the category of airline passenger services, also a high in figures dating to 2009, while rail transportation of freight and mail was up 1.4 percent, the most since 2012.

Overall, services prices increased 0.3 percent while the cost of goods fell 0.1 percent, reflecting declines in both food and energy. The decrease in goods prices was the first since May 2017.

While the figures — which highlight wholesale and other selling prices at businesses — are less prominent in investors’ minds than the consumer price index out Thursday, they illustrate how changes in input costs are feeding into inflation. PPI reports have limited usefulness in predicting the monthly CPI reports, JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists said in a recent note.

Amid trade tariffs and retaliatory levies, inflation pressures are being closely watched, particularly for signs of how likely they filter through production pipelines and on to businesses and consumers. Benchmark Treasury yields have climbed to multi- year highs this month amid investor expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue raising interest rates to the point of eventually restricting growth.

Final Demand Services

The index for final demand services increased 0.3 percent in September following two consecutive declines of 0.1 percent. The broad-based advance was led by a 1.8-percent jump in the index for final demand transportation and warehousing services. Prices for final demand services less trade, transportation, and warehousing rose 0.3 percent, and the index for final demand trade services inched up 0.1 percent. (Trade indexes measure changes in margins received by wholesalers and retailers.)

Product detail: In September, over one-third of the advance in prices for final demand services can be traced to the index for airline passenger services, which rose 5.5 percent. The indexes for food and alcohol wholesaling; deposit services (partial); outpatient care (partial); apparel wholesaling; and lawn, garden, farm equipment, and supplies retailing also moved higher. Conversely, margins for apparel, jewelry, footwear, and accessories retailing fell 2.5 percent. The indexes for automotive fuels and lubricants retailing and for traveler accommodation services also declined.

Final Demand Goods

The index for final demand goods edged down 0.1 percent in September, the first decrease since a 0.5-percent drop in May 2017. Leading the September decline, prices for final demand energy fell 0.8 percent. The index for final demand foods decreased 0.6 percent. In contrast, prices for final demand goods less foods and energy rose 0.2 percent.

Product detail: Leading the September decline in the index for final demand goods, gasoline prices fell 3.5 percent. The indexes for electric power; iron and steel scrap; canned, cooked, smoked, or prepared poultry; and fresh and dry vegetables also moved down. Conversely, the index for light motor trucks rose 0.8 percent. Prices for liquefied petroleum gas, pharmaceutical preparations, and unprocessed and prepared seafood also increased.

How the Producer Price Index (PPI) differs from the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The Producer Price Index (PPI) of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a family of indexes that measures the average change over time in prices received (price changes) by producers for domestically produced goods, services, and construction. PPIs measure price change from the perspective of the seller. This contrasts with other measures, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). CPIs measure price change from the purchaser’s perspective.

While both the PPI and CPI measure price change over time for a fixed set of goods and services, they differ in two critical areas: (1) the composition of the set of goods and services, and (2) the types of prices collected for the included goods and services.

The target set of goods and services included in the PPIs is the entire marketed output of U.S. producers. The set includes both goods and services purchased by other producers as inputs to their operations or as capital investment, as well as goods and services purchased by consumers either directly from the service producer or indirectly from a retailer. Because the PPI target is the output of U.S. producers, imports are excluded. The target set of items included in the CPI is the set of goods and services purchased for consumption purposes by urban U.S. households. This set includes imports.

The price collected for an item included in the PPIs is the revenue received by its producer. Sales and excise taxes are not included in the price because they do not represent revenue to the producer. The price collected for an item included in the CPI is the out-of-pocket expenditure by a consumer for the item. Sales and excise taxes are included in the price because they are necessary expenditures by the consumer for the item.

The differences between the PPI and CPI are consistent with the different uses of the two measures. A primary use of the PPI is to deflate revenue streams in order to measure real growth in output. A primary use of the CPI is to adjust income and expenditure streams for changes in the cost of living.

The composition of items in the Finished Goods Price Index differs from that of the All Items Consumer Price Index in two major respects. First, the Finished Goods Price Index includes price changes for producers’ durable equipment, which are not purchased by typical consumers and, therefore, are not included in the CPI. Second, the All Items CPI includes services which are not reflected in the Finished Goods Price Index. An additional difference is that the Finished Goods Price Index is only available at the U.S. level, while the All Items CPI is available at the regional, metropolitan area, and U.S. levels.

Although some data users utilize the PPI as a potential indicator of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), there are many reasons why the PPI and the CPI may diverge. The scope of the personal consumption portion of the PPI includes all marketable output sold by domestic producers for households. The scope of the CPI includes goods and services provided by business or government, where explicit user charges are paid by consumers. For example, the most heavily weighted item in the CPI, owners’ equivalent rent, is excluded from the PPI. The scope of the CPI includes imports. The PPI excludes imports. The CPI only includes components of personal consumption directly paid for by the consumers, while the PPI includes components of personal consumption that may not be paid for by consumers. For example, the PPI includes medical services paid for by third parties. In contrast to CPI, PPI does not completely cover services. PPIs exclude taxes, since they do not represent producer revenue. Conversely, sales and other taxes paid by consumers are part of household expenditure and are included in the CPI. Additional technical differences between PPI and CPI also exist.

Author

Ike Obudulu

Ike Obudulu

Versatile Certified Fraud Examiner, Chartered Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor with an MBA in Finance And Investments who has both worked for and consulted with some of the world's largest companies on main street and wall street in over 20 countries, Ike brings his extensive reporting and investigations experience to bear on his role as Chief Editor.
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