Inflation Cools in June

Like the weather, inflation was cooler than expected in June.

The government Thursday said the producer price index, or inflation at the wholesale level, fell 0.3%, exactly what economists were not expecting and a stunning reversal from a 0.8% jump in May. The consensus forecast was for a 0.2% gain.

Core prices, which exclude energy and food costs, rose as expected, gaining 0.2%, a slight improvement from May's 0.3% rate.

Energy prices fell 1.6%, while food costs dropped 0.6%. Both categories jumped 1.5% or more in the previous month.

The latest inflation figures offer something of a respite for the markets, which have taken a keen interest in the sudden and swift increase in price pressures recently, prompting some to worry it would force the Fed to raise interest rates more aggressively than previously thought.

Investors will get a second chance Friday when the government reports consumer prices for June. Economists are forecasting gains of 0.2% in both the headline and core rates. The headline rate jumped 0.6% in May, while the core rate rose 0.2%.

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