16 February 2012 18:51 [Source: ICIS news]
While plastic resins saw relatively sharp gains in January, wholesale prices for basic organic chemicals were off by 4.4% in the month, the department said.
Organic chemicals have seen monthly producer price declines of 4% or more for the last three months.
The 3.6% January advance for wholesale resins prices all but offset the 4.5% price decline seen in December.
In its monthly report on the producer price index (PPI), the department said the modest 0.1% advance in overall producer prices last month could be attributed chiefly to a 0.4% gain in finished goods less foods and energy products.
Economists prefer to back out foods and fuels prices from the overall PPI because price changes in those two areas can vary widely month to month.
Price changes at the wholesale level for all other finished goods, the so-called core index, are seen as a more reliable indication of possible inflationary trends.
Although foods and energy products typically produce higher price shifts in any given month, the department noted that in January energy goods prices fell by 0.5% and foods were down by 0.3%.
The decline in energy goods prices was attributed to a downturn in costs for residential electric power and home-heating natural gas.
The 0.3% drop in wholesale foods prices was attributed largely to a precipitous one-month fall of 8.8% for fresh and dry vegetables.
Although the department tracks producer prices on hundreds of commodities and products, it does not offer analysis or explanation for those price shifts.
Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy
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