Producer Price Index Continues to Show No Serious Inflation Threat

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The U.S. Department of Labor has released its Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand for the month of August. This represents wholesale inflation — or at least it would if there was some wholesale inflation.

Thursday’s report showed that the headline inflation reading for PPI was flat at 0.0% in August. Bloomberg was projecting a 0.1% gain on this monthly reading. The headline reading was also flat at 0.0% price change versus August of 2015 as well.

Where things look a tad different is in the core PPI reading. This is excludes food and energy to smooth out the volatile components. Core PPI was up by a tame 0.1% in August, matching the Bloomberg estimate. It was in the annual report that was compared to August of 2015 where the core PPI reading jumped by 1.0%.

As a reminder, the Federal Reserve has been pushing its desire to raise interest rates. It also wants inflation closer to a range of 2.0% to 2.5%.

On the surface this should do nothing to boost rate hike expectations. Still, there is the PPI that is even a further core reading excluding food, energy and trade services. This deeper core reading showed a 0.3% gain on the month over month reading in August. It also showed a much larger 1.2% gain in the annualized number from August of 2015.

Again, these readings are not likely to scare investors and economists into thinking that a series of rate hikes were about to be crammed in rapidly and with more severity than expected. Stay tuned.

The FOMC meeting will begin next week and should give further clarity on how the interest rate cycle will look now and into the election in November.

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