Mixed signals in US

There were mixed inflationary signals in figures for prices charged by producers in the US last month, writes Diane Coyle. The rise in prices at the factory gate was lower than expected, but prices paid by firms for goods and materials rose sharply.

The financial markets' verdict was that there is more inflation in the pipeline.

The index of factory-gate prices rose by 0.3 per cent in January, and only 0.2 per cent after the volatile food and energy components were excluded. Although food prices fell in the month, there was a sharp rise in energy prices, reversing a fall in December.

Prices paid by firms for intermediate goods rose by an alarming 1 per cent, taking them to a level 5.2 per cent higher than a year earlier. The price of raw materials also jumped by 1 per cent.

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