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U.S. producer prices rose moderately in April, but underlying inflation pressures at the factory gate appeared to be picking up.
The Labor Department said on Thursday its producer price index for final demand increased 0.2% last month after jumping 0.6% in March. In the 12 months through April, the PPI increased 2.2%, matching March's rise.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the PPI gaining 0.2% in April and increasing 2.3% on a year-on-year basis.
A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services increased 0.4% last month. That was the largest rise since January 2018 after being unchanged in March. The so-called core PPI increased 2.2% in the 12 months through April after rising 2.0% in March.
Price pressures have remained moderate despite a strong economy and tightening labor market. The Federal Reserve's preferred inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index increased 1.6% in the year to March, the smallest gain in 14 months, from 1.7% in February. The U.S. central bank last week kept interest rates unchanged and signaled little desire to adjust monetary policy anytime soon. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said inflation had been "somewhat weaker," but believed the softer readings "may wind up being transient."
Last month, wholesale energy prices rose 1.8% after jumping 5.6% in March. Goods prices increased 0.3% last month after surging 1.0% in March.
Wholesale food prices fell 0.2% in April. Core goods prices were unchanged after rising 0.2% in March.
The cost of services edged up 0.1 % in April after increasing 0.3% in the prior month. Prices for health-care services increased 0.3% last month. Those healthcare costs feed into the core PCE price index.