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The Final Demand Producer Price Index (PPI-FD) measure of wholesale inflation was down -0.1% in March, after +0.6% and +0.3% increases in January and February. Most of the decline was due to a -0.1% drop in service prices, and removing that volatile component along with the also volatile food and energy components brought the index up to a +0.1% increase. Year over year, the unadjusted PPI was up +2.3% for its largest increase since March 2012.
A -6.2% decrease in gasoline prices helped push the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to an unexpected -0.3% drop in March. Prices also decreased for used vehicles (-4.7%), wireless telephone services (-7.0%) and apparel (-0.7%), but increased for food (+0.3%) and shelter (+0.1%). The core CPI, which removes food and energy components, was down -0.1% for its first decline since January 2010. The Year over Year CPI dropped from +2.7% in February to +2.4% in March, and the core CPI dropped from +2.2% to +2.0% Y/Y.
Retail sales fell for the second month in a row, with February’s M/M sales revised sharply down from +0.1% to -0.3%, and March at a lower than estimated -0.2% M/M. Increases in sales for electronics and appliances (+2.6%), clothing (+1.0%), and online stores (+0.6%) were not enough to counter declines of sales in automobiles (-1.2%), building materials (-1.5%) and gasoline stations (-1.0%). Excluding automobile and gasoline sales brings both February and March to growth of +0.1% M/M and March to 4.1% Y/Y growth.
Tuesday Apr 18 – Industrial Production
Thursday Apr 20 – Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey