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MONDAY BUSINESS | PREVIEW

Oil Price Surge May Have Raised Inflation Rate

March 13, 2000|Bloomberg News

Economic figures to be released this week probably will show that the recent surge in oil prices brought on a rise in the inflation rate last month, analysts said. The first of the two monthly inflation reports--the producer price index--will probably show that prices paid to U.S. factories, farmers and other producers rose 0.6% in February after showing no change in January, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Excluding food and energy costs, the core index probably rose 0.3% last month following a decline of 0.2%. The February consumer price index probably increased 0.4% last month after a 0.2% gain in January, while the core rate rose 0.2%, the same as the previous month. Both government reports, the PPI on Thursday and the CPI on Friday, "will reflect higher energy costs," said Scott Brown, an economist at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla. But even so, those numbers "won't take the Federal Reserve off the hook" for further action to fight rising prices, Brown said. Fed officials meet again March 21. Policy makers and investors will also be watching Commerce Department figures due Tuesday on U.S. retail sales. Sales probably jumped 1.1% in February after rising 0.3% the previous month. Excluding car purchases, sales probably rose 0.7% last month after falling 0.3% in January.

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