U.S. March Producer Price Index Report (Text)

The following is the text of the U.S. producer price report for March released by the Labor Department.

The Producer Price Index for finished goods was unchanged in March, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Finished goods prices rose 0.4 percent in February and 0.1 percent in January. At the earlier stages of processing, prices received by manufacturers of intermediate goods climbed 0.7 percent in March, and the crude goods index declined 2.5 percent. On an unadjusted basis, prices for finished goods moved up 2.8 percent for the 12 months ended March 2012, the smallest year-over-year increase since a 2.7- percent rise in June 2010.

Stage-of-Processing Analysis

Finished goods

The index for finished goods was unchanged in March, as a 0.3-percent increase in prices for finished goods less foods and energy and a 0.2-percent advance in the index for finished consumer foods offset a 1.0-percent decline in prices for finished energy goods.

Finished core: The index for finished goods less foods and energy moved up 0.3 percent in March, the fifth consecutive increase. Over one-third of the March advance can be attributed to prices for light motor trucks, which rose 0.7 percent. Increases in the indexes for passenger cars and for soaps and other detergents also contributed to higher finished core prices. (See table 2.)

Finished foods: Prices for finished consumer foods moved up 0.2 percent in March, the first increase since November 2011. Leading the March advance, the index for fresh and dry vegetables jumped 12.8 percent. Higher prices for pork also contributed to the rise in the finished foods index.

Finished energy: Prices for finished energy goods fell 1.0 percent in March after rising 1.3 percent a month earlier. This decrease was led by the gasoline index, which declined 2.0 percent, seasonally adjusted. (On an unadjusted basis, the gasoline index climbed 7.5 percent.) Lower prices for diesel fuel and residential electric power also were factors in the decline in the finished energy goods index.

Intermediate goods

The Producer Price Index for intermediate materials, supplies, and components moved up 0.7 percent for the second consecutive month. The March advance was broad based, with prices for intermediate materials less foods and energy climbing 0.6 percent, the intermediate energy goods index rising 1.3 percent, and prices for intermediate foods and feeds advancing 0.6 percent. For the 12 months ended in March, the intermediate goods index moved up 2.9 percent, the smallest year-over-year increase since a 2.9-percent rise in December 2009.

Intermediate core: The index for intermediate goods less foods and energy moved up 0.6 percent in March, the second straight advance. Over two-thirds of the March increase can be traced to the index for basic organic chemicals, which jumped 4.4 percent. Higher prices for rubber and rubber products and for plastic packaging products also contributed to the rise in the intermediate core index.

Intermediate energy: Prices for intermediate energy goods advanced 1.3 percent in March, the second consecutive increase. A major factor in the March rise was the index for lubricating oil base stocks, which climbed 6.9 percent. A jump in the index for residual fuels also contributed to higher intermediate energy goods prices.

Intermediate foods: The index for intermediate foods and feeds increased 0.6 percent in March after five straight declines. Most of the advance can be attributed to a 2.3-percent rise in prices for prepared animal feeds.

Crude goods

The Producer Price Index for crude materials for further processing declined 2.5 percent in March. For the 3-month period ending in March, prices for crude materials fell 0.6 percent following a 0.8-percent decrease for the 3 months ending in December. In March, the monthly decline in the crude goods index is attributable to prices for crude energy materials, which fell 9.2 percent. By contrast, prices for crude foodstuffs and feedstuffs and for crude nonfood materials less energy rose 2.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Crude energy: The index for crude energy materials dropped 9.2 percent in March. For the 3- month period ending in March, prices for crude energy materials fell 7.4 percent subsequent to a 4.7-percent advance for the 3 months ended December 2011. Over eighty percent of the monthly decline in March can be traced to crude petroleum prices, which decreased 11.2 percent, seasonally adjusted. (On an unadjusted basis, crude petroleum prices rose 3.4 percent.) Lower prices for natural gas and coal also were factors in the decline in the crude energy materials index.

Crude foods: The index for crude foodstuffs and feedstuffs advanced 2.8 percent in March. For the 3 months ending in March, prices for crude foodstuffs and feedstuffs jumped 5.0 percent subsequent to a 3.5-percent decline from September to December. Nearly forty percent of the monthly rise in March was the result of an 8.4-percent increase in the index for hay, hayseeds, and oilseeds. Higher prices for slaughter chickens also contributed to the advance in the crude foods index.

Crude core: The index for crude nonfood materials less energy moved up 1.1 percent in March. From December to March, crude core prices climbed 1.5 percent after falling 5.8 percent in the 3 months ended December 2011. A 1.6-percent increase in the index for carbon steel scrap accounted for nearly two-fifths of the March monthly advance in the crude core index.

Services Analysis

Trade industries: The Producer Price Index for the net output of total trade industries climbed 1.2 percent in March, the largest rise since a 1.6-percent jump in August 2011. (Trade indexes measure changes in margins received by wholesalers and retailers.) Over two-fifths of the March advance is attributable to a 1.1- percent increase in the margin index for the wholesale trade industry group. Higher margins received by general merchandise stores and by motor vehicle and parts dealers also were major factors in the rise in the total trade industries index.

Transportation and warehousing industries: The Producer Price Index for the net output of transportation and warehousing industries moved up 1.1 percent in March, the sixth consecutive increase. Nearly two-thirds of the March rise can be traced to prices received by the industry for scheduled passenger air transportation, which climbed 4.0 percent. Advances in the indexes for truck transportation and water transportation also contributed to the rise in prices received by transportation and warehousing industries.

Traditional service industries: The Producer Price Index for the net output of total traditional service industries inched up 0.1 percent in March, the third straight increase. Leading the March rise, prices for the passenger car rental industry surged 26.6 percent. Higher prices received by hotel and motels and by the securities, commodity contracts, and other financial products and related activities industry group also were factors in the advance in the total traditional services industries index.

The Producer Price Index for April 2012 is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 11, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Middleton in Washington cmiddleton2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Marco Babic at mbabic@bloomberg.net

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