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Wholesale prices fell 1.2% in March, seasonally adjusted, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department
of Labor. This decline followed a 0.1% advance in February and a 0.8% increase in January.
At the earlier stages of processing, prices received by producers of intermediate goods fell 1.5% after decreasing 0.9% a month earlier, and the crude goods index declined 0.3% following a 4.5-percent drop in February.
Among finished goods, the index for energy goods turned down 5.5% in March after rising 1.3% in the preceding month. Prices for finished consumer goods less foods and energy inched up 0.1% following a 0.4-percent advance in February. The capital equipment index fell 0.2% in March after moving up 0.1% in the prior month.
By contrast, partially offsetting the downturn in finished goods prices, the decline in the index for finished consumer foods slowed to 0.7% in March from 1.6% in the previous month. Excluding foods and energy, finished goods prices were unchanged following a 0.2% rise in February.
During the first quarter of 2009, the finished goods index declined at a 0.9-percent seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), after falling at a 24.9% SAAR during the fourth quarter of 2008. This slower rate of decrease can be traced to prices for finished energy goods, which moved down at a 2.7-percent SAAR for the three months ended in March after dropping at a 76.7% SAAR for the 3 months ended in December.
Conversely, the index for finished consumer foods decreased at a 10.1-percent SAAR for the 3 months ended in March after falling at a 4.8-percent SAAR for the 3 months ended in December. Prices for finished goods less foods and energy increased at a 2.6% SAAR during the first quarter of 2009 after rising at the same rate in the fourth quarter of 2008.
At the earlier stages of processing, the intermediate goods index moved down at an 11.7% SAAR during the first quarter of 2009 after falling at a 39.7% SAAR during the fourth quarter of 2008, and prices for crude goods decreased at a 27.2% SAAR for the 3 months ended in March after dropping at a 78.0-percent SAAR for the 3 months ended in December. Before seasonal adjustment, the Producer Price Index for Finished Goods declined 0.7% in March to 168.9 (1982 = 100).
From March 2008 to March 2009, finished goods prices fell 3.5%. Over the same period, the index for finished energy goods decreased 25.4% and prices for finished consumer foods moved down 1.1%. By contrast, the index for finished goods less foods and energy advanced 3.8%.
For the 12 months ended in March, prices received by manufacturers of intermediate goods fell 8.9%, and the crude goods index dropped 39.0%.
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