WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically produced women’s apparel rose slightly in July, countering a small decline in June, the Labor Department reported Thursday in its Producer Price Index.

Producer prices for women’s apparel rose 0.2 percent last month compared with June, but fell 2.2 percent against July 2001.

However, wholesale prices for all U.S. apparel fell 0.5 percent in July compared with the previous month and dropped 1.7 percent against the year-ago level due primarily to decreases in prices of domestically produced men’s apparel categories. Producer prices for men’s and boys’ apparel dropped 1.2 percent in July and fell 3.2 percent against year-ago levels. Prices of girls’, infants’ and children’s domestically produced apparel also fell, by 1.7 percent, last month but gained 2.2 percent against July 2001.

"These continuing deflationary pressures indicate that the recent relative stability in industry production and employment may be reaching an end as global overcapacity and weak consumer demand hammer margins," said Charles W. McMillion, chief economist at MBG Information Services.

In the overall economy, wholesale prices dipped 0.2 percent in July due to falling prices for autos, fruit and chicken and computers, which offset rising prices for gas and heating oil.

Most women’s domestically produced price categories remained flat in July. Among the women’s wholesale price categories tracked by Labor with price fluctuations in July were:

Skirts, including uniforms, which rose 3.6 percent last month and 3.1 percent against July 2001.

Sweaters, jackets and jerseys, which remained unchanged in July, but plunged 13.5 percent compared with the year-ago period.

Knit outerwear sportshirts and sweatshirts, which fell 0.5 percent last month, while rising 0.7 percent against July 2001.

Blouses, waists and shirts, which were flat in July, but rose 4.2 percent against the same period last year.

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