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U.S. core producer prices hit 2 year high

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The government today said producer prices rose more than 3.5 percent over the last 12 months — which is about what analysts had expected. If you take out prices for food and energy — wholesale prices in this country rose at the fastest clip in more than 2 years last month.

David Wyss is chief economist at S&P. He’s with us live from New York. Good morning David.

DAVID WYSS: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: Tell us what this data is saying? Is inflation starting to rear its head?

WYSS: Well, we’re seeing a little bit of inflation out there. Most of it so far is in energy which obviously doesn’t have much to do with us. It has more to do with demand growth in China. Excluding food and energy, 0.5 percent for the month heavily in the import category. It’s reflecting in part a weak dollar.

CHIOTAKIS: Import as in all kinds things coming in from other countries.

WYSS: Yeah, especially areas like men’s apparel, toys, footwear, you know the stuff we buy from overseas.

CHIOTAKIS: Let’s break this down a bit and talk about what areas we should be most concerned about as far as rising prices go.

WYSS: Obviously energy is the big item. 1.8 percent in the month up, you know, very sharply from where we were a year ago — 9 percent. And you’re seeing that at the gas pump obviously I think everybody knows about that one. We’re seeing some big increases this month in areas like alcoholic beverages which may reflect beginning-of-year tax hikes at the state level. Surprisingly, food was less of a problem.

CHIOTAKIS: Food prices OK. Really?

WYSS: That slowed down a bit in part because we had some big increases in December, November which dropped off a bit in January.

CHIOTAKIS: All right, David Wyss from S&P in New York. David thank you.

WYSS: Thank you.

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