By  on May 14, 2007

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for U.S.-made women's and girls' apparel were flat in April compared with March and up 1 percent from a year earlier, according to the Labor Department's Producer Price Index.

Higher costs for energy products pushed prices on all finished goods up 0.7 percent in April, although the so-called core index, which strips away the food and energy sectors, was flat for the month.

"Businesses are managing to absorb higher energy prices and make decent profits through improvements in energy efficiency and general labor productivity," Peter Morici, professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, wrote in a report.

"Overall, the inflation and retail sales data indicate the economy is slowing, but not tanking," said Morici.

The government will offer another reading on inflation on Tuesday when it releases the Consumer Price Index, outlining prices paid by shoppers. The CPI is a broader indicator of apparel prices, since it measures all goods sold at retail, including imports. The PPI deals only with domestically made goods, which make up less then 10 percent of clothing sales.

Within the women's and girls' category, April wholesale prices of robes and dressing gowns shot up 5.6 percent from a year earlier; prices of knit shirts and blouses rose 4 percent, and prices of woven shirts and blouses were up 1.8 percent. Partially offsetting those increases, underwear prices fell 2.3 percent and dress prices were off 1.8 percent.

In the textile sector, wholesale yarn prices advanced 2 percent from a year earlier, as thread prices increased 4.1 percent and the price of finished fabrics rose 1.1 percent. Greige fabric prices were flat.

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