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Wholesale inflation jumps record 9.6% over past 12 months

Shoppers at the Brickell City Centre mall in Miami. Retailers are blaming inflation and supply chain challenges for not being able to slash prices as much as they traditionally would during the holiday shopping season.Joe Raedle/Getty

WASHINGTON — Prices at the wholesale level surged by a record 9.6 percent in November from a year earlier, an indication of on-going inflation pressures

The Labor Department said Tuesday that its producer price index, which measures inflation before it reaches consumers, rose 0.8 percent in November after a 0.6 percent monthly gain in October. It was the highest monthly reading in four months.

Food prices, which had fallen 0.3 percent in October, jumped 1.2 percent in November. Energy prices rose 2.6 percent after a 5.3 percent percent rise October.

The 12-month increase in wholesale inflation set a new record, surpassing the old records for 12-month increases of 8.6 percent set in both September and October. The records on wholesale prices go back to 2010.

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Core inflation at the wholesale level, which excludes volatile food and energy, rose 0.8 percent in November with core prices up 9.5 percent over the past 12 months.

The increase in wholesale prices was widespread, led by a 1.2 percent increase in the cost of goods and a 0.7 percent rise in the price of services.

In the goods category, the price of iron and steel scrap rose 10.7 percent while the price for gasoline, jet fuel, and industrial chemicals all moved higher. In the food category, the price of fresh fruits and vegetables rose while the price of chickens fell.

The surge in wholesale prices followed news Friday that consumer prices shot up 6.8 percent for the 12 months ending in November, the biggest increase in 39 years, as the price of energy, food, and many other items shot up.

The Federal Reserve, holding its last meeting of the year this week, is expected to announce Wednesday that it will accelerate the pace at which it reduces its monthly bond purchases, preparing the way to begin raising its key benchmark interest rate, possibly by mid-2022 as it seeks to demonstrate its resolve to bring inflation under control.

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