US producer prices slip 0.1 pct. on cheaper food, services

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2017, file photo, blueberries grow at Blue Fruit Farm outside of Winona, Minn. On Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, the Labor Department said that U.S. wholesale prices fell 0.1 percent in December, led by cheaper food and lower shipping costs. (Elizabeth Nida Obert/The Rochester Post-Bulletin via AP, File)

WASHINGTON — U.S. wholesale prices fell 0.1 percent in December, led by cheaper food and lower shipping costs.

The Labor Department said Thursday that wholesale prices, which measure the cost of goods before they reach the consumer, increased 2.6 percent last month compared with the previous year. Excluding volatile food, energy and business profit margins, core wholesale prices ticked up 0. 1 percent last month and 2.3 percent from a year ago.

The figures suggest inflation pressures have cooled at the wholesale level. Wholesale prices had risen 0.4 percent in three of the past four months, mostly because of much higher energy costs. In December, energy prices were flat while food costs fell 0.7 percent.

With unemployment at a low 4.1 percent and the economy expanding, economists are closely monitoring price indexes for any signs of inflation.

Federal Reserve policymakers have said they expect to raise short-term interest rates three times this year. But they could do so more often if inflation threatens to accelerate more quickly.

So far, consumer prices remain largely in check. The consumer price index increased a modest 2.2 percent in November from a year ago.

Here are some other facts to know:

__ Prices for transportation and warehousing services fell 4 percent, led by lower costs for airline passenger tickets.

__ Wholesale gas prices dropped 3.9 percent last month, suggesting consumers may soon see some savings at the gas pump.

__ Beef and veal prices fell 6.3 percent, the most since July.

__ Separately, the Labor Department said that applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, rose by 11,000 last week to a still-low 261,000. While it was the highest level in 15 weeks, applications for jobless benefits still remain at levels indicating a healthy labor market.

You may also interested in

Dominican leader assumes 2nd term, pledges tech revolution

Aug 16, 2016

The president of the Dominican Republic has been sworn in for a second term as leader of the country boasting the best economic grown in Latin America and the Caribbean

Hong Kong airline Cathay's 1H profit tumbles 82 percent

Aug 17, 2016

Cathay Pacific Airways' profit tumbled in the first half of the year as economic weakness in China and other important markets cut passenger demand while it faced cutthroat competition from rivals

Asian stocks climb on signs US rate hike off table for now

Aug 18, 2016

Asian stocks rose Wednesday after Wall Street edged higher on news the U.S. Federal Reserve is in no hurry to raise interest rates

People also read these

Insurers continue to abandon ACA exchanges, limiting choice

Aug 16, 2016

Aetna will abandon for next year Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges in more than two-thirds of the counties where it sells coverage, making it the latest major health insurer to cuts choices in many markets

Global stocks climb on signs US rate hike not imminent

Aug 18, 2016

Global stocks rose Thursday after Wall Street edged higher on news the U.S. Federal Reserve is in no hurry to raise interest rates

Applications for US unemployment benefits fall to 262,000

Aug 18, 2016

Applications for US unemployment aid fall in latest evidence that layoffs are rare

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH