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In its first decline since February 2017, wholesale inflation dropped -0.1% in August, after an upwardly revised +0.2% gain in July, with the drop bringing yearly wholesale inflation down to +2.8% from +3.3% in July. The drop in overall wholesale inflation was primarily due to a -0.1% drop for services, which fell for trade margins (-0.9%), transporting passengers (-1.9%), and transporting goods (-0.1%). Drops for food prices (-0.6%) balanced out increases for energy (+0.4%), leaving wholesale goods prices unchanged in August. Construction prices slowed from +0.4% in July to a +0.1% gain, with office buildings up +0.2% and warehouses, schools, and health care buildings each up +0.1%.
Consumer inflation rose +0.2% in August, matching July’s monthly increase, and dropping yearly inflation from +2.9% to +2.7%. Food prices were up +0.1%, energy prices were up +1.9%, and service prices, excluding energy services, were up +0.2%. Within service prices increasing costs for shelter (+0.3%), water/trash services (+0.3%), and transportation services (+0.3%) were offset by drops in prices for medical care (-0.2%). Core inflation, which strips out the volatile food and energy sectors, slowed to a +0.1% gain compared to July’s +0.2% increase, which dropped overall yearly core inflation from +2.4% to +2.2%. The largest yearly price increases for consumers were for fuel oil (+30.9%), motor fuels (+25.9%), and gasoline (+20.3%), while yearly prices dropped for audio/video products (-12.8%), toys (-9.3%), household furnishings (-5.1%), and apparel (-1.4%).
Retail sales, seasonally adjusted but not adjusted for inflation, were revised upward for July from +0.5% to +0.7%, but sales in August rose only +0.1%, the smallest gain in the last six months. August sales dropped for automobile dealers (-0.8%), clothing retailers (-1.7%), furniture stores (-0.3%), and department stores (-1.0%), but rose at miscellaneous stores (+2.3%), gasoline stations (+1.7%), and nonstore (i.e. online) retailers (+0.7%). On a yearly basis overall sales were up +6.6%, with increasing prices helping to boost gasoline sales by +20.3%, and additional increases for online retailers (+10.4%), and restaurants (+10.1%). Yearly sales dropped for sporting goods stores (-3.9%), and department stores (-0.7%).
Wednesday September 19 – Housing Starts
Thursday September 20 – Existing Home Sales
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