By  on August 15, 2007

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices on U.S.-made women's and girls' apparel remained flat last month compared with June and were up 1 percent from a year earlier.

Within the category, knit shirt prices increased 3.9 percent last month from a year ago, as prices on woven shirts increased 1.8 percent and nightwear was up 1.2 percent. Dress prices fell 1.9 percent for the month and underwear prices declined 2.7 percent.

Since more than 90 percent of apparel sold in the U.S. is made abroad, price changes by American producers are not indicative of overall trends, but do offer a glimpse of the climate for the remaining domestic producers, which are generally relatively small and focused on niche products.

On the textile side last month, wholesale prices for synthetic fibers fell 2.1 percent, while yarns increased 2.7 percent. Greige fabric prices rose 0.2 percent and finished fabrics were up 0.4 percent.

Prices on all domestically produced goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent, according to the Labor Department's Producer Price Index released Tuesday. Stripping away volatile food and energy goods, prices inched up just 0.1 percent, after rising 0.3 percent in June and 0.2 percent in May.

Aside from energy prices, which increased 2.5 percent last month, James Glassman, an economist at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., described the report as "pretty tame."

The Labor Department will offer another look at economic data today with the Consumer Price Index, which tracks prices on all retail merchandise.

Looking into the second half, Glassman sees the consumer weighed down by things, including high gas prices and rising mortgage payments.

"I have low expectations for the holiday season," he said. "I think we're already seeing some slowdown."

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