By  on September 14, 2005

WASHINGTON — Wholesales prices on U.S.-produced women's and girls' apparel rose 0.1 percent last month to stand 0.6 percent above year-ago levels, according to the Labor Department's Producer Price Index released Tuesday.

In the broader economy, prices on all U.S.-made goods grew by a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in August. After stripping out the volatile food and energy sectors, the so-called core measure of inflation held steady for the month, indicating that prices remained in check before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.

"That core rates haven't really started to move up is good news," said John Mothersole, senior economist at Global Insight. "Underlying conditions haven't worsened appreciatively and, in fact, they haven't really shown much of a change."

However, increased energy prices in the wake of Katrina will show up as overall higher prices in next month's report, noted Mothersole.

"We're going to see a bump in core inflation," he said. "The key will be how long energy prices stay up. The longer they stay up, the more they're likely to be factored into business decisions."

Prices for all domestically made apparel fell 0.2 percent for the month, but were up 0.1 percent against a year earlier.

Price fluctuations varied within the women's apparel category. Dress prices rose 0.1 percent in August, but were down 4.1 percent from a year earlier, while bras fell 0.1 percent for the month and were up 3.8 percent year-on-year.

On the textile side, greige fabric prices were flat in August and 2.3 percent ahead of a year ago, while synthetic fiber price tags grew by 0.5 percent during the month and were 5.6 percent above year-ago levels.

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