US chemicals prices up by 4.4% in March, plastics up by 0.5%

12 April 2012 15:02  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US producer prices for basic organic chemicals rose by 4.4% in March from February, the Department of Labor (DOL) said on Thursday, while wholesale prices for plastic resins edged up by a more modest 0.5%.

Overall, the department said that prices at the producer level – also known as wholesale prices – were flat in March.

In its monthly report, the DOL said its producer price index (PPI) was held to no gain – in part because of a 1% decline in wholesale prices for energy goods, including a 2% drop in gasoline prices.

Such a decline in energy product prices offset increases in producer prices for light trucks and passenger vehicles.

The flat PPI for March followed three consecutive months of nominal gains – 0.1% each in November, December and January – and a larger 0.4% rise in February.

With energy and food products left out of the overall total, the department said its so-called core index for wholesale prices rose by 0.3% in March – the fifth consecutive monthly gain.

Economists typically focus on the core index because month-to-month price fluctuations in energy products and foods can be volatile.

In organic chemicals, the department said the 4.4% jump in producer prices followed a larger 6.4% rise in February, with successive increases offsetting the 4.4% decline reported for January.

Prior to the 0.5% gain in wholesale prices for plastic resins in March, that sector had seen a 0.3% rise in February and a stronger 3.6% increase in January.

While the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles monthly price changes in hundreds of commodities and products, it does not provide any analysis of those shifts.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy


By: Joe Kamalick
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