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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2011

Gasoline costs push wholesale prices up 0.8% in September


WASHINGTON — U.S. wholesale prices rose at their fastest pace in five months in September as the cost of gasoline surged, but a small gain in core prices suggested the price pressure was unlikely to be sustained.

While the jump in gasoline prices was seen as a blip, report details yesterday pointed to enough inflation pressure to keep the bar high for further loosening of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve.

“There is no sign of the deflationary pressures that the Fed was worried about a year ago, so the hurdle for further quantitative easing is higher now than it was then,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass.

The Labor Department said its seasonally adjusted index for prices received by farms, factories, and refineries grew 0.8 percent last month after being flat in August. Economists expected prices to increase 0.2 percent.

Stripping out volatile food and energy, the so-called core producer price index rose 0.2 percent after inching up 0.1 percent in August.

Economists cautioned that data today could show an upside surprise in September consumer prices.

Jeremy Lawson, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York, said, “Inflation will moderate over the course of the next 6 to 12 months, but that moderation will be more gradual than some people had been hoping for.”

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