Byline: Alison Maxwell

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically produced women’s apparel increased 0.1 percent in February, while soaring gasoline prices caused the largest surge in overall producer prices since October 1990, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Year-over-year women’s prices were flat, according to Labor’s Producer Price Index.
In January, prices dropped 0.3 percent, after increasing 1.1 percent in December.
The index for all U.S.-made apparel was up 0.2 percent, following a 0.4 percent drop in January and a 0.4 percent increase in December.
Year-over-year, apparel prices were down 0.2 percent, primarily due to competition from low-cost imports.
Wholesale prices for all finished goods jumped 1 percent in February, after being flat in January.
That was the steepest increase since prices surged 4 percent in October 1990, when there was a rise in oil prices following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
Energy prices alone in February increased by 5.2 percent, the largest one-month gain since a 7.5 percent increase also in October 1990. The core PPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, increased 0.3 percent after dropping by 0.2 percent in January.
“I am monitoring the impact that energy prices are having on our economy,” Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said in a statement. “Today’s report, however, continues to show that inflationary pressure remains limited to the energy sector.”
However, analysts predict that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again when it meets on Tuesday.
Breaking down women’s apparel into categories, the PPI showed a wholesale price decrease in suits, which dropped 1.1 percent for the month and 1.9 percent year-over-year.
Sweater prices were down 0.5 percent, but were up 8.9 percent for the year. In knit outerwear, prices dropped 0.3 percent for the month, but were up 0.8 percent from last year.
Prices of skirts dropped 0.2 percent and were down 2.2 percent for the year. Prices of dresses increased 0.1 percent for the month, but they maintained their ongoingprice decrease, dropping 3.9 percent for the year.

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