U.S. wholesale inflation accelerated in January in the latest sign that prices had risen last month

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wholesale prices in the United States accelerated in January, the latest sign that some inflationary pressures in the economy remain elevated.

The Ministry of Labor reported on Friday that this is the case manufacturer price index – which tracks inflation before it reaches consumers – rose 0.3% from December to January, after falling 0.1% from November to December. On an annual basis, producer prices rose by a mild 0.9% in January.

The numbers follow a surprisingly warm report this week it showed that consumer prices fell less than expected last month, indicating that the inflation caused by the pandemic comes under control only gradually and unpredictably.

Public frustration with inflation has grown a central issue in President Joe Biden’s re-election bid. Inflation rates have fallen from their peaks and are approaching the Federal Reserve’s target level. Still, many Americans remain annoyed that average prices are still about 19% higher than when Biden took office.

Some of Friday’s data will be used to calculate the Fed’s preferred price measure, which will be reported later this month. That benchmark is far below the better-known consumer price index. In the second half of 2023, the Fed’s preferred measure showed prices rising just 2% annually, in line with the inflation target.

Fed officials have expressed optimism that inflation is heading down, and in December they predicted they would cut their benchmark interest rate three times this year. Last year, the Fed raised interest rates to a 22-year high, about 5.4%, to expand its concerted efforts to tackle high inflation. The interest rate hikes, which were intended to cool borrowing and…

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