By  on June 18, 2008

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically manufactured men’s and boys’ apparel rose 0.4 percent in May compared with April and 1 percent compared to last year, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.

Wholesale prices for all apparel increased 0.1 percent from April and 0.7 percent from May of last year. Prices for all U.S. produced goods rose a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent in May, after rising 0.2 percent in April and 1.1 percent in March. The core PPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.2 percent in May.

The higher top-line producer prices juxtaposed against more modest increases in the core prices highlights the uncertainty in the economy for this year and next, sources said.

“When, and to what extent, will the massive and ongoing energy price surges embed themselves in core prices-particularly core consumer prices?” said Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist with Global Insight.

The 1.4 percent increase in all wholesale prices was higher than consensus estimates that placed the increase at 1 percent, Beauchemin noted. The core prices were in line with expectations.

The PPI does not indicate broader apparel trends, since the vast majority of apparel sold in the U.S. in manufactured outside the country, but price fluctuations are still notable.

Wholesale prices for men’s and boys’ works shirts dropped 2.2 percent from last month, but rose 0.3 percent from last year. Prices for work clothing rose 0.7 percent compared to last month and 0.6 percent year-over-year. Knit shirt prices in May dropped 0.5 percent from April and rose 0.8 percent from a year ago. Suit prices were flat from last month, and up 0.1 percent from the same period last year. Prices for woven shirts were up 0.9 percent from last month and 5 percent from last year.

Prices for textile mill products rose 0.8 percent in May compared to April and 3.8 percent compared to the same period last year. Textile product mill prices were flat compared to April and rose 1.5 percent from last year. Textile mill products are mostly apparel fabric, textile product mills manufacture primarily industrial and home furnishings fabrics.

Inflationary pressures had a larger impact on goods deeper in the production pipeline. Synthetic fibers prices were up 0.7 percent from last month and 1.7 percent from last year. Yarns increased 0.5 percent from last month, and shot up 7.1 percent compared to May of last year. Greige fabric prices increased 0.2 percent from last month and 2.3 percent from last year. Finished fabric prices were up 1.3 percent from April and 3.4 percent year-over-year.

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