Gas prices nudge up consumer price index
WASHINGTON – Higher gasoline costs pushed a measure of U.S. consumer prices up in June. But the overall trend in inflation stayed tame.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that the consumer price index increased 0.5 percent in June from May. Two-thirds of the increase came from a 6.3 percent jump in gas prices, the largest since February.
Excluding volatile food and energy costs, so-called core prices rose just 0.2 percent.
Consumer prices have been stable this year, allowing the Federal Reserve room to continue efforts to stimulate the economy.
Overall prices have risen just 1.8 percent over the past 12 months. And core prices are up just 1.6 percent in that period – the smallest 12-month change in two years. Both measures are below the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target.
In June, prices for all energy products rose 3.4 percent mostly because of the surge in gasoline costs. Beyond that, other prices were little changed.
The gas price surge was driven by a jump in global oil prices, which reflected in part the political turmoil in Egypt. Food prices ticked up 0.2 percent. New cars prices increased 0.3 percent but are up just 1.3 percent over the past year. Clothing prices rose 0.9 percent in June but are up just 0.8 percent over the past 12 months. Prices for used cars fell 0.4 percent and are down 2.3 percent over the past year.
U.S. factory output rises for second month in June
WASHINGTON – U.S. factories cranked out more business equipment, home electronics and autos in June, boosting manufacturing output for the second straight month. The gains suggest factories may be starting to recover from a slow start this year.
The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that manufacturing production rose 0.3 percent in June from May. That followed a 0.2 percent gain the previous month. Still, the two consecutive gains barely offset production declines in March and April.
Overall industrial production, which includes factories, mines and utilities, also rose 0.3 percent in June. Mining output increased 0.8 percent, while utility output slid 0.1 percent.
Manufacturing is the most critical component of industrial production. The recent gains are a hopeful sign that factories could help the economy grow in the second half of the year.
Pilot Flying J to repay trucker fuel rebates
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has agreed to pay back the trucking companies that were cheated out of fuel rebates, according to a settlement given preliminary approval Tuesday.
Under the agreement approved by a federal judge in Arkansas, Pilot Flying J would pay the companies what they are owed with interest.
Federal agents raided the Knoxville headquarters of Pilot Flying J earlier this year after an employee claimed the nation’s largest diesel retailer was systematically cheating its clients. Five employees have since pleaded guilty to federal charges.
Horse slaughterhouses plan Aug. 5 opening
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The attorney representing newly licensed horse slaughterhouses in New Mexico and Iowa said the plants are set to open Aug. 5.
But lawyer Blair Dunn said those plans hinge on an Aug. 2 court date before a federal judge in New Mexico overseeing a lawsuit by animal protection groups.
The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue of Larkspur, Colo., and others filed the suit against the Department of Agriculture, alleging it failed to conduct the proper environmental reviews before issuing permits for Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.