Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Price, Sales Reports Help Ease Fears of Inflation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Price, Sales Reports Help Ease Fears of Inflation

Article excerpt

Wholesale prices and retail sales both fell in April, the government said Thursday in reports that were cheered by Wall Street because they dampened inflationary fears.

The Labor Department said its Producer Price Index fell by 0.1 percent last month after a 0.2 percent increase in March. Without the impact of the volatile food and energy sector, prices still showed an increase of only 0.1 percent.

"What you have is a very favorable situation right now with an expanding economy with little or no real price pressures," said David Jones of Aubrey G. Lanston and Co.

The data showing weak upward pressure on prices came as sales at retail stores dropped sharply in April from a brisk pace in March.

Saying demand softened for nearly all types of goods, the Commerce Department said retail sales fell an unexpectedly steep 0.8 percent after a strongly revised 1.7 percent jump in March.

Wall Street economists had expected both April wholesale prices and retail sales to show 0.2 percent gains, instead of the declines for both.

The Commerce Department previously reported that March sales had risen only 0.4 percent and that February sales were up 1.6 percent. But it revised both figures upward to show a 1.7 percent climb in March and a 1.9 percent surge in February.

The stock and bond markets, which fell sharply Wednesday on fears of higher inflation, registered strong gains Thursday in response to the reports.

White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers said the drop in prices at the wholesale level last month confirmed the administration's view that inflation was tame. …

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