Consumer Prices Rise Less Than Forecast as Autos Drop

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From a year earlier, producer prices advanced 2.6% last month, the smallest annual increase since December.

U.S. consumer prices rose by less than forecast in April as costs for automobiles and airfares declined, reducing chances that inflation will run significantly above the Federal Reserve's target in coming months.

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI edged up 0.1 per cent after two straight monthly increases of 0.2 per cent. In the 12 months through April, the CPI increased 2.5 percent, the biggest gain since February 2017, after rising 2.4 percent in March.

In the 12 months through April, the core PPI rose 2.5 per cent after jumping 2.9 per cent in March.

Economists saw the slower increase in wholesale prices in April as a good sign that inflation is not getting out of control.

The food index was rose 0.3%.

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Economists expect the core personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price index, which had increased 1.6% in February, to breach its target in May. Thursday's weak core inflation number is "not enough to derail the Fed's June hike, but points toward lower rates further out the curve", wrote Ian Lyngen, head of USA rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets in NY. Today's report continues a four-month trend of surging inflation, with the CPI-U index rising 1.62% over that period. Prices for both food at home grew 0.3%, while food away from home rose 0.2%. Intermediate services prices advanced 3.1% in April from a year earlier.

The United States said on Tuesday it plans to impose new sanctions against Iran after abandoning an agreement reached in late 2015 that curbed Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for removal of US and European sanctions. Transportation and warehousing costs were up 0.6% on the month.

In another report on Thursday, the Labor Department's first-time applications for state unemployment benefits were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 211,000 for the week ended May 5. And expected increases in gasoline prices this summer will add to the inflation pressures.

Competition for workers is expected to push up wage growth, which has remained moderate. There were also decreases in the cost of airline tickets, new motor vehicles and communications.

The labor market is considered to be near or at full employment, with the unemployment rate close to a 17-1/2-year low of 3.9 percent.

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