Tag: energy prices

Producer Prices Drop in October for Second Consecutive Month

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that producer prices for finished goods dropped 0.2 percent in October, falling for the second straight month. Declining energy prices helped to push costs lower once more. The price of finished energy goods declined 1.5 percent for the month, with gasoline prices off 3.8 percent. Indeed, the price of West Texas intermediate crude fell from $102.36 per barrel on September 30 to $96.29 a barrel on October 31. The producer price index data reflect this decline with energy costs declining at the intermediate and crude levels, as well.

After falling by 1.0 percent in September, the cost of food increased by 0.8 percent in October. The previous month’s decline had been largely driven by reduced prices for fresh and dry vegetables, and the cost of vegetables rebounded somewhat this time. Yet, the bulk of the increase in October stemmed from higher costs for beef and veal, with turkey prices also up significantly. (Happy Thanksgiving!)

For manufacturers, raw material costs were down 0.7 percent in October, with input prices down 0.4 percent year-over-year. As such, the sector has benefited from the recent deceleration of producer costs, easing pricing pressures.

With that said, there were pockets in the manufacturing industry that did experience some sizable monthly gains in their costs. This included the transportation equipment (up 1.6 percent), wood products manufacturing (up 0.8 percent), beverage and tobacco (up 0.7 percent), and textile mills (up 0.5 percent) sectors. The petroleum and coal products sector had a 3.2 percent decline in costs, as discussed above.

On a year-over-year basis, the following sectors have experienced raw material cost increases of two percent or more over the past 12 months: wood products (up 6.7 percent), leather and allied products (up 3.5 percent), paper (up 3.5 percent), nonmetallic mineral products (up 3.0 percent), apparel (up 2.4 percent),  and plastics and rubber products (up 2.2 percent) manufacturing.

Overall inflation continues to be extremely modest, with producer prices up just 0.3 percent on a year-over-year basis. This is down from the 2.5 percent annual pace observed in June. When you exclude food and energy costs, the annual rate of core inflation was just 1.4 percent, unchanged for the past two months. Such news should serve as further comfort for the Federal Reserve, which continues to debate when to taper its asset purchases but plans to stay with its highly accommodative policies for the foreseeable future.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.

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Consumer Prices were Up 0.2 Percent in July, Moderating Slightly from June’s Rise

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in July, moderating slightly from June’s 0.5 percent rise. Both food and energy costs were higher, but the growth in energy prices slowed from the previous month. In June, the cost of energy products increased 3.4 percent, with gasoline alone up 6.3 percent. In July, those growth rates eased to 0.2 percent for energy goods and 1.0 percent for gasoline. This is consistent with the recent rise in West Texas intermediate crude oil costs, which have risen from an average of $93.80 a barrel in June to $104.61 in July.

Food prices rose 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent in June and July, respectively. The cost of fruits and vegetables were up sharply for the month, with pork prices also higher. These gains were counteracted by reductions in the price of cereal products, dairy products, and nonalcoholic beverages, among others. On a year-over-year basis, food prices have risen 1.4 percent, with the largest gains occurring in food consumption away from home (up 2.1 percent).

Outside of food and energy, the largest year-over-year increases in prices were for transportation services (up 3.0 percent), medical care services (up 2.6 percent), shelter (up 2.3 percent), tobacco and smoking products (up 1.7 percent), apparel (up 1.6 percent), and new motor vehicles (up 1.2 percent).

Overall, consumer prices have risen 2.0 percent over the course of the past 12 months. This suggests a pickup in inflationary pressures, with the annual pace up from 1.1 percent in April and 1.8 percent in June. Excluding food and energy, core inflation is currently 1.7 percent, edging slightly higher from the 1.6 percent rate observed in June.

These data suggest that inflation remains modest, with core inflation below the Federal Reserve’s stated target of 2 percent. The producer price index report released yesterday said mostly the same thing. This allows the Federal Reserve to pursue “highly accommodative” policies, even as it seeks to “taper” (or slow) its asset purchases later this year.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.

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More of the Same from President Obama on Energy

Today President Obama spoke about energy policy at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland. The President said we need an energy strategy for the future and an “all of the above” strategy for the 21st century that develops every source of American-made energy.

The Administration seems to have missed the mark again. Clearly every source is not in the Administration’s plan as the EPA’s Utility MACT regulation is forcing the closure of clean coal power plants throughout the country, resulting in lost jobs.

The President also stated that his Administration has approved dozens of new pipelines to transport oil:

We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high.  I want everybody to listen to that — we have more oil rigs operating now than ever.  That’s a fact.  We’ve approved dozens of new pipelines to move oil across the country.  We announced our support for a new one in Oklahoma that will help get more oil down to refineries on the Gulf Coast. 

The pipeline in Oklahoma the President is referencing is what will be a section of the Keystone XL pipeline which TransCanada announced they will begin construction on soon in Oklahoma and Texas. The President decided that it wasn’t in the nation’s best interest back in January to approve the entire stretch of the pipeline from Canada down to Texas. Keystone XL would bolster our supply and provide manufacturers with an affordable source of energy.

Manufacturers can’t afford more of the same policies from Washington which are driving up energy prices and stifling growth. It’s time for a real “all of the above” approach which includes developing all domestic sources of energy to drive down energy prices.

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Senate Misses Opportunity to Lower Energy Prices and Create Jobs

It’s extremely disappointing the Senate failed today to take a stand for jobs and manufacturers by voting down important amendments to the transportation bill that would delay the harmful Boiler MACT regulations, expand exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf and approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. Senators failed to pass these amendments which would have saved jobs, created jobs and injected the economy with new life. 

There were 52 votes in support of the Collins amendment. Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has spent much of the past eight days up in the Senate meeting with Democratic Senators trying to convince them that there was really no need for the Senate to pass legislation. The standards the EPA has put forward are not achievable with our current technology, and the EPA knows this.

Manufacturers want reasonable and achievable regulations. They want some degree of certainty. They want government to quit trying to pick winners or favorites.

The Vitter amendment to expand drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) was rejected on a 46-52 vote. Senators need to realize that every barrel of oil produced in North America is another barrel that we don’t have to pull from somewhere else in the world. The more sources of oil and the more supply of oil means energy will be more affordable for manufacturers and that means more jobs. The Vitter amendment would open up vast tracks of the OCS to oil exploration and make the country more self-reliant.  (continue reading…)

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Producer Prices Increase in March

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its the Producer Price Index (PPI) data this morning, showing that overall prices for finished goods rose 0.7 percent in March.  Excluding food and energy costs, finished goods rose 0.2 percent. 

Within manufacturing, the PPI was up 2.2 percent for the month and 7.7 percent from last year.  Industries with the greatest gains in producer prices in March include petroleum and coal products manufacturing, primary metal manufacturing, textile mills, and food manufacturing.

While the PPI increase was less than in February, the overall trend shows a steady increase since early 2009 (see the accompanying picture), potentially squeezing profits for those firms which are unable to pass those higher costs along to the consumer.  One of the largest drivers of this increase has been higher energy costs, which rose 2.6 percent in March.

The picture for intermediate goods is mostly the same, spurred on by higher energy costs.  The PPI for intermediate materials, supplies, and components was up 1.5 percent, with the core PPI (which excludes food and energy) increasing 0.9 percent.   Processed fuels and lubricants costs saw the highest increase month-to-month, jumping 4.2 percent for manufacturing industries.  Materials and components for construction and overall supplies for manufacturers rose 0.8 percent for the month.  In terms of crude materials for further processing, however, crude fuel costs actually fell for the month.  For manufacturers, crude fuel prices fell 4.3 percent, reflecting some volatility.

In summary, producer prices are rising, continuing a trend that we have seen for much of the past two years, and much of that increase is due to higher energy costs, with the overall “core” PPI increasing moderately.   

Chad Moutray is chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers.

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