US business prices rose by 0.4% in September, ahead of expectations for a 0.2% increase and reflecting a sharp rebound in food prices and a strong gain in the core measure, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
Larger-than-expected monthly gains lifted their year/year rates to their highest points since the beginning of the pandemic.
Food prices were up 1.2% in the month following declines in the previous three months. There were large gains in several food categories, particularly grains, eggs, vegetables and beef.
Energy prices posted a 0.3% decline in September, led by a 2.8% drop in gasoline prices offset by gains in residential electricity, heating oil and gas prices.
Data released on Tuesday had shown that consumer energy prices rose by 0.8%, with gasoline prices up 0.1%, so there was a disconnect this month.
Excluding the volatile food and energy components, PPI was up 0.4% in September, double the 0.2% gain expected. The BLS’s preferred core measure also rose 0.4% in the month. The measure excluding a 0.2% increase in trade services prices in addition to food and energy prices.
Trade services were lifted by margins on fuels and furniture. Outside of trade services, there was an interesting 3.9% gain in prices of travel accommodation services, suggesting some are optimistic about travel in 2021.
Overall PPI prices now stand 0.4% above their year ago level, while prices excluding food and energy were up 1.2%. Both were well ahead of the year/year rates posted in August, but remain below the rates seen prior to the pandemic.