U.S. producer prices inched higher in September as food and energy costs rose at a slower pace.
The producer price index rose a smaller-than-expected 0.2 percent in September even though auto prices surged, Labor Department figures showed.
For the first nine months of the year, producer prices rose at a 2.2 percent annual rate, up from a 1.5 percent pace in the same period a year earlier, the Labor Department said.
When food and energy costs are taken out, however, producer prices rose at only a 0.8 percent annual rate in the first nine months of the year, down from a 2.4 percent rate a year earlier. “Except for the period of the cigarette price wars in 1993, this is the lowest core wholesale rate ever measured,” said Bruce Steinberg, an economist at Merrill Lynch in New York.
In August, the PPI core rate fell 0.1 percent even though the overall index increased 0.3 percent.
The Labor Department also reported Friday that raw materials prices, including crude oil, fell 1.5 percent in September.
Also Friday, the University of Michigan reported that consumer confidence in the economy remained strong in early October. The university’s consumer sentiment index rose to 94.8 for this month from 94.7 in September.