Big increases in wholesale prices for food and energy drove the Labor Department's producer price index for finished goods up 1.1% in March, but the core index, which excludes food and energy and is considered a good measure of inflationary pressure, came it at a much tamer 0.2% after jumping 0.5% and 0.4% in February and January, respectively.
The Labor Department said this morning that the index for energy goods accelerated to 2.9% in March from 0.8% in February and finished consumer foods turned up 1.2% after declining 0.5% in February. The finished goods index rose at a 10.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate during the first quarter, after climbing at an 11.5% rate during the fourth quarter of 2007.Finished energy goods moved up at a 22.5% rate for the first quarter after jumping at a 44.1% SAAR for the 3 months ended in December.
Prices for finished goods excluding foods and energy increased at a 5.0% seasonally adjusted annual rate during the first quarter of 2008 after rising at a 2.2% rate during the fourth quarter of 2007. The index for finished consumer foods increased at a 10.1% rate for the 3 months ended in March after advancing at a 9.6% rate for last year's fourth quarter.
At the earlier stages of processing, the intermediate goods index moved up at a 19.4% seasonally adjusted annual rate during the first quarter on tp of a 14.5% rate increase during the fourth quarter of 2007. Prices for crude goods continued their rapid rise with a 73.4% seasonally adjusted annual rate for the first quarter on top of a rate jump of 67.7% for last year's last quarter.