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Men’s, Boy’s Apparel Prices Flat in January

Seasonally adjusted wholesale prices for U.S-made men’s and boys’ apparel held were flat in January.

WASHINGTON — Seasonally adjusted wholesale prices for U.S-made men’s and boys’ apparel held were flat in January, compared with December, as prices on all domestically made goods jumped 1 percent.

The overall increase in all domestically made goods in January reflected a deepening inflationary pattern underscored by the latest Consumer Price Index on prices for goods and services, which rose 0.4 percent in January.

The increase in prices on domestically made goods was driven by higher energy and food costs, according to the Labor Department’s Producer Price Index, released Tuesday. Excluding food and energy goods, which are more volatile, wholesale prices were up 0.4 percent, following a 0.2 percent rise in December.

“Months of surging energy prices appear now to be trickling up the production chain to finished goods prices,” said Kenneth Beauchemin, U.S. economist for Global Insight, in an analysis.

In light of the downturn in the housing market, subprime mortgage crisis and severe credit crunch on Wall Street, the Federal Reserve Board has placed an emphasis on the slowdown in the economy rather than inflation in setting interest rate policy.

But Beauchemin said the accelerating inflation in several indices could force the Fed to “refocus on the price-stability mandate” ahead of its March meeting.

“Losing a grip on inflation expectations would prove costly at this juncture,” Beauchemin warned.

Seasonally adjusted wholesale prices for all U.S.-made apparel rose 0.1 percent in January, compared with December.

More than 90 percent of the apparel sold in the U.S. is made abroad.

Within the men’s and boys’ category, January wholesale prices on woven shirts rose 1.4 percent last month and increased 1.2 percent versus January 2007, as prices on neckwear rose 0.7 percent in January and increased 0.9 percent against a year ago. Wholesale prices on outerwear held steady last month but rose 0.3 percent versus a year ago, while prices on work clothing rose 0.1 percent last month and increase 1.4 percent year over year.

In the textile industry, prices on domestically made textile mill products rose 0.7 percent in January and 3.2 percent year over year, while prices for textile product mills fell 0.4 percent in January but rose 0.7 percent versus January 2007.