US Wholesale Prices Stayed Flat in November

A corn harvester pushes through a field of grain corn in Warsaw, N.Y., on Nov. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

(CN) – American wholesale prices were unchanged last month, reflecting a continued trend of tame inflation that is likely to persist.

The producer price index, which measures costs before goods reach consumers, did not rise or fall in November, after a 0.4% increase the month before tied to higher energy costs. The index is up 1.1% from a year ago.

Excluding the always volatile food, energy and trade services categories, core wholesale prices also stayed flat last month and are up 1.3% from November 2018, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That is the smallest 12-month gain since September 2016.

The report on wholesale prices comes a day after the Federal Reserve declined to lower its key interest rate again after cutting it three times this year. Inflation has stayed consistently stayed below the central bank’s 2% annual target.

The Fed also signaled Wednesday that it will likely the keep the benchmark rate – which is now between 1.5% and 1.75% – unchanged in 2020.

Wholesale energy costs rose 0.6% in November, compared to the 2.8% surge in October. Producer food prices were up 1.1% whole costs of services dropped 0.3%.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department reported that the consumer price index, another gauge of inflation pressure that measures what U.S. consumers pay for a wide range of products, rose 0.3% in November after a 0.4% gain in October.

Core consumer prices, which exclude the food and energy sectors, were up 0.2% last month and 2.3% from this time last year.

The Fed’s three rate cuts in 2019 were driven by concerns about a global economic slowdown and President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, which has gone on for nearly two years.

But the tame inflation pressures, along with surprisingly strong job growth, means rates will likely stayed unchanged at least through next year, until after the 2020 presidential election.

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