Wholesale Inflation Surges at Double Expected Rate

March 14, 2024

Wholesale inflation rose at double its expected rate in February, according to a government report released Thursday, the second report this week that could indicate a lack of progress on tempering inflation.

The Producer Price Index (PPI), which tracks the cost of materials that producers and manufacturers buy from their suppliers, rose by 0.6 percent last month compared with January, a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. That surge is double the expected 0.3 percent that Dow Jones forecasted.

A PPI report signaling higher prices for producers may portend higher prices for consumers.

To determine policy, lawmakers and officials often look at "core" inflation, which the bureau calculates by stripping out the prices to produce food and gas—more volatile metrics. The "core" PPI rose 0.3 percent, which is higher than the expected 0.2 percent. Core PPI inflation, however, did slow from 0.5 percent in the previous month.

The year-over-year metric for the index increased 1.6 percent, the sharpest rise since September.

Despite the gloomier top line numbers, one economist told CNN that the measures for both the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and PPI for March will likely show improvement since energy and gas prices have not had a sharp increase.

Although inflation is down from the records it reached in summer 2022, it has been a persistent problem during President Joe Biden's administration. Thursday's lackluster numbers come on the heels of another report this week from the bureau, which found that the CPI for February increased from January, indicating that inflation is not hitting the Federal Reserve's target of 2 percent. Those February CPI numbers followed higher-than-expected PPI numbers from January.