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Wholesale prices rose 10.8% in May, close to a record annual rate

Workers inspect a Rivian R1T electric vehicle (EV) pickup on the assembly line at the company’s production facility in Normal, Illinois, USA, Monday, April 11, 2022.

Jamie Kelter Davis | Bloomberg | Getty pictures

Wholesale prices rose at a rapid pace in May as inflationary pressures increased on the US economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday.

The producer price index, a measure of the prices paid to producers of goods and services, rose 0.8% for the month and 1[ads1]0.8% last year. The monthly increase was in line with Dow Jones estimates and a doubling of the 0.4% rate in April.

Excluding food, energy and trade, the so-called core PPI rose 0.5% a month, slightly below the estimate of 0.6%, but an increase from 0.4% last month. On an annual basis, the core target was up 6.8%, corresponding to the April gain.

The two PPI targets remained close to their historical highs – 11.5% for headline and 7.1% for core, both reached in March.

The data are significant in that prices at the wholesale level go through consumer prices, which have been at their highest level since December 1981. The consumer price index increased by 8.6% annually in May, which defies the hope that inflation had peaked during the spring.

Federal Reserve officials are closely monitoring inflation figures. The markets now expect central bank officials to increase the reference rates for short-term borrowing by 75 basis points when their two-day meeting ends on Wednesday.

For wholesale prices, energy accounted for much of the gain in May. The index for final demand for energy rose 5% per month, part of a 1.4% increase in final demand for goods. The imbalance between goods and services has been at the heart of inflationary pressures, as consumer demand has changed sharply in an economy that is generally more dependent on services.

Within this energy gain, petrol rose 8.4%, while several other fuel categories also increased.

The service index rose 0.4%, with transport and warehousing services responsible for more than half of the gain. The increases were dampened by a decline in fuel and lubricants, portfolio management and rental of guest rooms.

Børsfutures pointed to an upturn after the release. Government bond yields retreated after massive rises on Monday, with the 10-year benchmark index last yielding around 3.32%.

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