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May PPI Falls 0.3%; Core Up 0.2%

Inflation pressures were mild in May as the Labor Department said prices at the wholesale level slipped 0.3% lower. Excluding volatile food and energy items, prices were higher by 0.2%.



) -- Prices at the wholesale level dipped in May, supporting the view that inflationary pressures will remain subdued in the near term. When excluding for more volatile food and energy items, however, the Department of Labor said Wednesday that producer prices were slightly higher.

The producer price index on finished goods declined by a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in May, which was milder than the 0.5% drop that economists had been expecting, according to

, but not as moderate as April's decrease of 0.1%.

Food and energy prices fell by 0.6% and 1.5%, respectively, resulting in a slightly stronger core PPI that grew 0.2% in May and surpassed economists' expectations for an uptick of 0.1%.

The PPI for intermediate materials, supplies and components advanced by 0.4%, which compares with the prior month's stronger growth of 0.8%. The intermediate core level, which excludes food and energy, also rose, by 0.3%.

Separately on Wednesday, the

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Federal Reserve

said industrial production increased by a better-than-expected 1.2% in May. Economists had only been looking for growth of 0.8%, according to

. April's industrial production growth was downwardly revised to 0.7%, from an initially reported increase of 0.8%.

Capacity utilization also strengthened in May by a whole percentage point to 74.7%, the Federal Reserve said. That level outpaced economists' projections for May utilization of 74.4%.


Written by Melinda Peer in New York


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