Just bouncing off 200-day MA as Bernanke doubts rate rise and Barrick covers

Section:

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?
type=businessNews&storyID=4907981&section=news

By Reuters

WASHINGTON, April 22 -- A big jump in food prices helped
push U.S. wholesale prices sharply higher last month, the
government said on Thursday in a report likely to sustain
budding inflation worries.

The Producer Price Index, which measures prices paid to
farms, factories, and refineries, climbed 0.5 percent in
March, the Labor Department said. Excluding at-times
volatile food and energy costs, the so-called core PPI
advanced a milder 0.2 percent.

Wall Street economists had expected a 0.3 percent rise
in overall producer prices, with core prices up a mild 0.1
percent.

Food prices soared 1.5 percent, the biggest increase since
October, as vegetable prices shot higher and beef prices
turned up after a decline.

The department said the steep rise in food prices accounted
for over half of the acceleration in producer prices last month,
which picked up from a tame 0.1 percent rise in February.

Energy prices increased a hefty 0.6 percent in March,
building on a string of recent sharp rises. The cost of home
heating oil gained 11 percent and gasoline prices rose 1.3
percent. In contrast, the cost of residential natural gas
slipped 0.5 percent.

Prices for small trucks and SUVs, which had plunged in
February, rose 0.8 percent last month, helping fuel the rise
in the core index.

Core wholesale prices have accelerated in the first quarter,
rising at a 2.1 percent annual rate compared with last year's
mild 1 percent advance.

The picture further back in the production pipeline shows even
more price pressures, which has led some economists to fret
over the potential for retail inflation.

Both intermediate and crude goods prices rose 0.7 percent
last month, with core intermediate costs up 0.6 percent and
core crude goods prices up 2.7 percent.

In the first quarter, intermediate goods prices rose at a sharp
10.1 percent rate, compared with only a 3.9 percent climb last
year, while crude prices have shot up at a 26.3 percent annual
pace.

A big jump in consumer prices in March, along with strong job
growth and retail sales, has fueled speculation the Federal
Reserve will raise interest rates as early as this summer to
head off a rising risk of inflation.

The Fed has held overnight borrowing costs at a 1958 low of
1 percent since last June in an effort to wipe out any risk
consumer prices could begin tumbling amid a weak economy.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Tuesday U.S.
companies were regaining the power to raise prices and that
a long period of worry about deflation was over -- remarks that
helped cement expectations rates would soon head higher.

In a second appearance on Wednesday, Greenspan said that
while rates would need to rise "at some point," broad-based
inflation pressures did not seem to be building, even though
prices at early stages of production had mounted.

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