PPI Offers Closer Look at Inflation, at Least for Some

October 14, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

The Federal Reserve has been hoping, praying and trying to forecast for a return of 2.0% inflation. At that rate, it can begin to finally raise interest rates. It has been no secret that the Fed presidents and Chair Janet Yellen want to raise rates. That 2.0% mark may not be here yet.

The U.S. Department of Labor released its Producer Price Index (PPI) for Final Demand for the month of September. The headline data ticked a tad higher.

PPI for Final Demand on the headline report was up by 0.3% in September. Bloomberg was calling for a gain of 0.2%, and the prior month headline rate was 0.0%. The gain in the headline year over year was actually up 0.7%, versus 0.0% in August.

Where things tend to matter more is the PPI excluding food and energy. This Core PPI was up 0.2% on the monthly number. Bloomberg was calling for a 0.1% gain, and the gain in August was 0.1%.

The Core PPI reading on a year-over-year basis was up 1.2%, higher than the 1.0% gain in August.

Then there is an even closer look at real prices on the core market. The PPI core that removes food and energy and also removes trade services was up 0.3% on a monthly reading, but it was up 1.5% on a year-over-year reading (versus 1.2% the prior month).

It is important to remember that the Federal Reserve is at a crossroads. They say routinely that they are data-dependent, but they also say that the 2.0% inflation target might not have to be seen, just anticipated.

September’s PPI for Final Demand is far from a hot inflationary number. That being said, it has higher positives than we have seen for quite some time.