Finished Goods PPI Surprises With 0.3% June Decline

By John S. McClenahen The U.S. Labor Department in effect lowered the nation's inflation alert level on July 15 when it reported that the Producer Price Index (PPI) for Finished Goods fell 0.3% in June. Economists generally expected some moderation from May's 0.8% increase, but not by as much as actually took place. Prices for finished energy goods fell 1.6% in June; prices for finished consumer goods decreased 0.6%. Not as economically encouraging was the Labor Department's July 15 report on last week's initial claims for unemployment insurance. They increased to 349,000, some 40,000 higher than the previous week's revised figure of 309,000. The department's four-week moving index of initial claims, which smooths out week-to-week variations, also increased. Last week it was 339,000, an increase of 3,250 from the pervious week's revised average of 335,750. Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department said that business inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for changes in prices, reached an estimated $1.2199 trillion at the end of May, up. 0.4% from their end-of-April figure.

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