Sharply higher gasoline and heating oil costs sent prices at the wholesale level up 0.3% in April, the largest monthly increase since last November, the government said today.
Prices at the wholesale level have now risen 1.7% for the first four months of 1985, but are only 0.7% higher than April, 1984, because there have been several months in which prices declined.
In March, the Labor Department’s producer price index was up 0.2% over the previous month.
The April increase of 0.3% would translate to an annual rate of 3.8% if extended for 12 consecutive months.
The increase marks the first time in 12 months when the volatile index has shown back-to-back gains.
Prices Lag a Month
The increase for April actually reflects some March price increases unreported in that month’s index. The energy price calculations in the producer price index lag a month because energy companies report their prices too late for inclusion in the most recent report.
Gasoline prices rose 9.5% in the April report and heating oil was up 10.2%. Natural gas prices, on the other hand, declined 0.2%.
Those energy prices, which translated to a seasonally adjusted 5.8% in the energy index as a whole, offset declines in other major areas.
Food prices dropped 1%, the fourth consecutive decline. Prices for consumer goods other than food and energy edged down 0.2% after a 0.6% increase in March.
John M. Albertine, president of the American Business Conference, an association of 100 chief executive officers of mid-sized high-growth companies, said the report showed the economic recovery “is enormously resilient.”
“Gasoline prices continue to climb, but, unlike the 1970s, other prices are not going along for the ride,” he said. “The hefty increases in gasoline and fuel oil prices are clearly at odds with the general softness of prices at all levels of production.”