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A key inflation measure just hit its highest level on record

By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business

A key inflation gauge showed that US prices continued to climb in November as pandemic-era supply chain chaos and a labor shortage continues.

The producer price index — which tracks the average changes in selling prices that domestic producers receive over time — rose 9.6% over the 12 months ended in November. It was the biggest jump since the data series was first calculated in November 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a larger advance than economists had expected.

Stripping out prices received for food, energy and trade services, the index still climbed 6.9% over the same period, the biggest increase since August 2014.

Tuesday’s report follows last week’s look at consumer price inflation, which rose by 6.8% over the same time period, a level not seen since June 1982.

Both data points also follow Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s suggestion to retire the use of the word “transitory” when describing the pandemic-era price hikes.

The central banks had been adamant that current inflation will only be temporary, but as it has dragged on and gotten worse, that description seemed less and less appropriate.

The Fed, which has already begun to roll back its pandemic stimulus, begins meeting Tuesday and will give an update on its monetary policy Wednesday afternoon. Powell is expected to announce a faster pace for rolling back stimulus following comments he made to Congress last month.

Here’s what got more expensive

The November price increases were broad, but some categories stood out nonetheless. In services, prices for financial products, including portfolio management and investment advice rose. Prices for transportation of freight and mail also climbed.

Prices received for goods actually rose at a slightly slower pace in November compared with the prior month. Yet, prices for iron and steel scrap jumped 10.7%, while prices for gasoline, fresh fruit and vegetables also rose.

America’s producers don’t only sell to end consumers but also to other businesses, which is tracked with the price indexes for intermediate demand.

Within that category, price increases also abated a little bit in November compared with October. That said, over the 12-month period ended in November, the price index for processed goods jumped 26.5%, the biggest increase since December 1974, according to the BLS.

One of the categories driving up prices is industrial chemicals.

Within unprocessed goods, energy was one of the biggest drivers of price increases. In the 12 months ended in November, the prices for unprocessed goods jumped 52.5%.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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