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New York Fed: Manufacturing Activity Remained Strong but Eased in February; Input Costs Accelerated

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Manufacturing activity in the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s district eased somewhat in February but remained strong overall. In the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the composite index of general business conditions declined from 17.7 in January to 13.1 in February. While this was the fourth straight deceleration in the headline index, off from the three-year high of 28.8 in October, the pace of expansion has remained decent overall, averaging 26.9 over the past 14 months. In February, the underlying data were mixed. New orders (up from 11.9 to 13.5), employment (up from 3.8 to 10.9) and the average workweek (up from 0.8 to 4.6) each picked up in the latest data, but shipments (down from 14.4 to 12.5) and inventories (down from 13.8 to 4.9) slowed a little.. Read More

Consumer Inflation Slowed in October on Reduced Energy Costs

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices edged up by 0.1 percent in October, slowing from more robust growth in both August and September. The increases in the prior two months were led by significant growth in energy costs, largely on negative impacts from recent hurricanes, which were up by 2.8 percent and 6.1 percent in those months, respectively. Energy prices began normalizing in October, off by 1.0 percent, with gasoline prices down 2.4 percent. At the same time, food prices were unchanged. Since October 2016, food and energy costs have increased 1.3 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively. Excluding food and energy, core consumer inflation increased by 0.2 percent in October, buoyed by higher costs for medical and transportation services, shelter expenses and used car and trucks.

Overall, the consumer price index (CPI) increased 2.0 percent year-over-year in October, down from 2.2 percent in September. There has been an acceleration in pricing pressures since June’s 1.6 percent year-over-year reading, but the current pace remains well below the 2.8 percent pace seen in February. In addition, core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy costs, have risen 1.8 percent over the past 12 months, inching up slightly from 1.7 percent in the prior release. Read More

Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded More Strongly in September

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The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity in its district expanded more strongly in September, with activity accelerating at its fastest pace since February. The composite index of general business activity rose from 14 in August to 19 in September. Overall, this report continues to reflect a manufacturing sector that has made significant progress over the past year, and in September, new orders (up from 17 to 20), shipments (up from 8 to 22), capacity utilization (up from 10 to 16) and the average workweek (up from 10 to 16) indicated relatively solid growth. At the same time, employment (down from 17 to 15) in the mid-Atlantic region slowed slightly for the month, even as hiring activity remained quite robust. Read More

Consumer Prices Edged Up 0.1 Percent in July, but Inflationary Pressures Have Cooled Overall

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent in July, ticking slightly higher after being unchanged in June. Food prices rose by 0.2 percent for the month, but that was partially offset by a decline in energy costs of 0.1 percent. Since July 2016, food and energy costs have increased 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

Overall, the consumer price index (CPI) increased 1.7 percent year-over-year in July, inching up from 1.6 percent in June. Pricing pressures had accelerated over much of the past year, increasing from 0.9 percent year-over-year in July 2016 to 2.8 percent year-over-year in February. However, inflation has cooled since then. Read More

Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded More Strongly in July

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The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity in its district expanded more strongly in July, with activity accelerating to a 3-month high. The composite index of general business activity rose from 11 in June to 14 in July. (Note that these data have been revised from the prior release to reflect a new seasonal adjustment.) The sector has now expanded for 10 straight months – a sign that conditions have improved from more lackluster activity prior to that. Year-to-date, the headline index has averaged 13.3 so far in 2017, up from 2.1 in the same time period in 2016. In July, manufacturers in the mid-Atlantic region noted monthly pickups in new orders (up from 14 to 18), employment (up from 5 to 10), the average workweek (up from 1 to 9) and wages (up from 10 to 17), with shipments growth unchanged (13). The backlog of orders (up from -4 to 11) increased for the first time since April. Read More

Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Growth Picked Up in June

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The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank reported that manufacturing activity in its district picked up somewhat in June, bouncing back from May’s more sluggish expansion. The composite index of general business activity rose from 1 in May to 7 in June. While the sector has grown for eight straight months in the region, activity has eased from March’s seven-year high (22). Manufacturers in the mid-Atlantic area felt more optimistic about new orders (up from 0 to 6), shipments (up from -2 to 11) and capacity utilization (up from -9 to 1). Hiring has expanded in every month so far in 2017 (down from 6 to 5), albeit at a slower pace than in February and March. Despite those mostly positive trends, the backlog of orders (up from -15 to -4) and the average workweek (down from -3 to -5) remained in contraction territory in June.   Read More

Consumer Prices in May Reflect Some Slowing in Inflationary Pressures

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that consumer prices edged down 0.1 percent in May, falling for the second time in the past three months. The lower figure mainly stemmed from reduced energy costs, down 2.7 percent, with gasoline prices off 6.4 percent. In contrast, food prices increased 0.2 percent for the second consecutive month. Over the past 12 months, food and energy costs have increased 0.9 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. Overall, the consumer price index increased 1.9 percent year-over-year in May, its first reading below 2 percent since November. This suggests that the acceleration in pricing pressures that peaked at a 2.8 percent year-over-year rate in February has slowed since then. With that said, year-over-year consumer inflation was 1.0 percent in May 2016, suggesting that overall prices have still trended higher over the longer term.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy costs, edged up 0.1 percent in May, mirroring its increase in April. Excluding food and energy costs, consumer prices have risen 1.7 percent over the past 12 months, pulling back from 2.0 percent in March and 1.9 percent in April. As such, overall pricing pressures remain modest and mostly under control for now.

Philly Fed: Manufacturing Continues to Expand at a Robust Pace

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The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that manufacturing activity continued to expand at a robust pace in May. The composite index of general business activity increased from 22.0 in April to 38.8 in May. February’s 43.3 figure was the highest reading since November 1983, and this latest figure was the best since then. The headline number in May was boosted by strong growth in shipments (up from 23.4 to 39.1), with the percentage of respondents suggesting that their shipments had increased rising from 38.5 percent in April to 48.4 percent in May. In addition, there were strong gains seen for new orders (down from 27.4 to 25.4), employment (down from 19.9 to 17.3) and the average workweek (up from 18.9 to 21.7), even with some easing in a couple of these measures. The rate of expansion for the average employee workweek was at a level not seen since October 1987. Read More

Year-Over-Year Growth in Producer Prices Rose to the Fastest Pace Since February 2012

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final demand goods and services increased 0.5 percent in April, bouncing back strongly after declining by 0.1 percent in March. For manufacturers, producer prices for final demand goods rose by 0.7 percent, boosted by strong gains in both food and energy costs, up 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. On a year-over-year basis, final demand food and energy costs have risen 1.7 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively. It was second consecutive year-over-year increase in food prices for producers after declining in every month since February 2015 prior to that. Excluding food and energy, producer prices for final demand goods were up 0.3 percent.

Overall, producer prices for final demand goods and services have increased 2.5 percent since April 2016, its fastest pace since February 2012. That represents a notable acceleration in inflationary pressures after being unchanged in August. Meanwhile, core producer prices – which exclude food, energy and trade services – grew 2.1 percent year-over-year in April, up slightly from 1.8 percent in March. This will lend further credibility to the Federal Reserve’s current normalization schedule, which is currently expected to raise short-term interest rates two more times in 2017, with the next increase coming in at its June meeting.

Producer Prices Eased in March but Were Up 2.3 Percent Year-Over-Year, Highest in Five Years

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final demand goods and services edged down 0.1 percent in March, falling for the first time in seven months. For manufacturers, producer prices for final demand goods were also off by 0.1 percent, led lower by reduced energy costs, down 2.9 percent for the month. Still, on a year-over-year basis, final demand energy prices have risen 15.3 percent. At the same time, food prices jumped 0.9 percent in March, its strongest monthly gain since December. Higher costs for cooking oils, eggs, fruits, meats and vegetables were enough to offset lower prices for coffee, dairy products, grains, milled rice and oilseeds. Since March 2016, food prices have inched up 0.3 percent, its first positive year-over-year gain since February 2015.

Excluding food and energy, final demand goods prices for producers increased by 0.4 percent in March. Overall, producer prices for final demand goods and services have risen 2.3 percent since March 2016, its highest year-over-year rate since March 2012. Moreover, it represents a notable pickup in inflationary pressures after being unchanged in August. Meanwhile, core producer prices – which exclude food, energy and trade services – grew 1.75 percent year-over-year in March, up slightly from 1.7 percent in February. That year-over-year pace was the fastest rate since August 2014.

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