The producer price index rose in November as a result of rising gasoline prices in combination with a series of other goods to result in the largest annual gain for that index in nearly six years.
The data, which came a day ahead of Fed’s widely-expected hike in interest rates could assuage concerns among some Fed officials over persistently low inflation.
Investors are also hopeful that Congress will complete final legislation for a tax overhaul that is expected to slash corporate tax rates, possibly this week.
The financial sector index chalked up a 1-percent gain, followed by the healthcare sector, up 0.4 percent. The telecom index was the biggest percentage gainer with a 2.8-percent rise.
Goldman Sachs offered up the greatest stimulus for the Dow Jones Industrial Average with a 3-percent gain, followed by Boeing, which rose 2.4 percent after it announced a 20-percent dividend hike and an $18-billion share buyback authorization.
Declines in technology heavyweights, including Apple and Facebook, dragged on the Nasdaq.
The Fed is widely expected to raise its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday. Traders see an 87.6-percent chance of a 25-basis-point rate hike, according to the CME Group’s Fedwatch tool. Investors will also watch for the central bank’s forecast on future rate hikes and its view on the health of the economy.
Approximately 6.50 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that was in line with the 6.52 billion share daily average over the past 20 trading sessions.
Sharp Rise in the Producer Price Index
Producer prices rose in November chalking up their largest annual gain in nearly six years. According to the report released on Tuesday morning by the Labor Department, the broad acceleration in wholesale price pressures, is likely to assuage somewhat the concerns within the Fed over the persistently low inflation number.
The Labor Department reported that its producer price index increased 0.4 percent last month, advancing by the same margin for three straight months. In the 12 months through November, the PPI is up 3.1 percent. That was the largest gain since January 2012 and followed a 2.8 percent rise in October.
A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services also rose 0.4 percent last month. The so-called core PPI had increased by 0.2 percent for two straight months. It rose 2.4 percent in the 12 months through November, the largest gain since the series started in August 2014, after increasing 2.3 percent in October.
The broad rise in producer prices supports views that weak inflation readings experienced through the first half of the year probably were temporary. Some Fed officials worry that the factors that held down inflation early in the year could become more persistent.
The Fed officials gathered for a two-day policy meeting beginning today and is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday, for a third time this year, with a robust labor market and strengthening economy expected to overshadow policymakers’ earlier concerns about tame inflation.
The Fed tracks the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, which has undershot the Fed’s 2 percent target for nearly 5-1/2 years.
Inflation data on Wednesday is expected to show the consumer price index rising 0.4 percent in November after nudging up 0.1 percent in October, according to a Reuters survey. The core CPI is seen rising 0.2 percent for a second straight month.
Last month, gasoline prices surged 15.8 percent, the largest gain since August 2009, after dropping 4.6 percent in October. Gasoline accounted for two thirds of the 1.0 percent increase in the final demand goods index.
There were also increases in the prices of light motor trucks, pharmaceutical preparations, beef, residential electricity and jet fuel.
Wholesale food prices rose 0.3 percent in November after increasing 0.5 percent in October. Prices for services gained 0.2 percent last month after increasing 0.5 percent in October.
Core goods climbed 0.3 percent in November, rising by the same margin for a third consecutive month. Prices for passenger cars accelerated 0.5 percent last month, the largest increase since December 2016, after being unchanged in October.
The cost of healthcare services was unchanged last month after rising 0.3 percent in October. Those costs feed into the Fed’s preferred core PCE price index.