WASHINGTON – U.S. wholesale prices nudged higher in February, pushed higher by rising gasoline prices, the government said on Friday in a report that showed little evidence that inflation pressures were building in the economy.
The Labor Department said producer prices rose 0.2 percent in February after a 0.1 percent gain in the previous month. The February price gain was larger than the 0.1 percent forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, but should be low enough to reassure the Federal Reserve when it meets to set interest rate policy next week that inflation will not be rearing its ugly head anytime soon.
Excluding volatile food and energy components, wholesale prices were unchanged in February after declining 0.1 percent in January. Economists had expected prices excluding food and energy to advance 0.1 percent during February.
The modest overall gain in producer prices for February was driven by a 0.4 percent increase in finished energy prices, a category that includes items like gasoline where prices advanced 4.5 percent during the latest month.
But highlighting just how muted inflation pressures are in the world's richest economy, the latest data still left prices 2.6 percent lower over the past year — a rate of price declines not seen in over 50 years since President Harry S. Truman was in the White House.