Producer prices up 0.4 percent

March 15, 2012 at 3:21 PM

WASHINGTON, March 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Producer Price Index for finished goods rose 0.4 percent from January to February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday.

Overall, the price of finished goods rose slightly less than economists predicted. The consensus estimate called for a 0.5 percent rise in prices.

Inflation is currently being held in check by high unemployment. Raising prices with so many consumers out of work can cut into business volumes.

On the other hand, the price of gasoline at the pump has risen 30 cents per gallon in the past month, AAA said Thursday. Crude oil prices are rising due to increased demand in emerging countries and tension in the Middle East that threatens supplies.

For producers of goods in February, the volatile items of food and energy costs were mixed with prices for finished foods dropping 0.1 percent, while energy costs rose 1.3 percent.

Core prices, which exclude food and fuel, rose 0.2 percent in the month.

On an annual basis, finished goods price inflation settled at 3.3 percent for the month, down from 4.1 percent a month ago and down from a 12-month peak of 7.1 percent in July.

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