By  on October 15, 2007

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices of U.S.-made women's and girls' apparel were flat in September compared with August, but were up 0.9 percent against a year earlier.

Wholesale prices on knit shirts and blouses advanced 3.6 percent from September 2006, as bra prices rose 2.4 percent, nightwear was up 1.2 percent and dress prices fell 2 percent, according to the Labor Department's Producer Price Index.

These fluctuations are most important to the small but hardy band of domestic apparel producers who still have more than 210,000 people on their payrolls. However, the vast majority of the apparel sold in the U.S. is made in other countries.

The Labor Department will release the Consumer Price Index on Wednesday, providing a snapshot of what consumers are paying for fashions, as well as other goods and services.

Higher energy prices pushed wholesale prices on all U.S.-made goods up a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in September, after a 1.4 percent drop in August. Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, prices were up just 0.1 percent.

"Energy prices, particularly those for gasoline, heated up again in September, and the [overall] Producer Price Index went along for the ride," Global Insight U.S. economist Kenneth Beauchemin said in an analysis.

Beauchemin said weaker inflationary pressures deeper in the supply chain would lead to further moderation in prices, excluding food and energy goods, in the coming months.

In the textile area, wholesale prices on synthetic fibers fell 0.5 percent last month compared with a year earlier, as yarn prices rose 2.9 percent, greige fabrics were up 1.3 percent and finished fabric prices advanced 1.2 percent.

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