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Wholesale Apparel Prices See Slight Uptick in April

Wholesale prices for domestically produced women's and girls' apparel rose 0.1 percent in April compared with the previous month, but dropped 0.2 percent from a year ago, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices for domestically produced women's and girls' apparel rose 0.1 percent in April compared with the previous month, but dropped 0.2 percent from a year ago, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its Producer Price Index.

Wholesale apparel prices, including men's and boys', rose 0.1 percent from March and 0.6 percent from April 2007. The prices of all finished goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in April after rising 1.1 percent in March and 0.3 percent in February. Core producer prices, excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, were up 0.4 percent in April.

Consensus estimates prior to the Labor Department's release predicted a 0.4 percent increase in producer prices and a 0.2 percent rise in core prices.

The moderate 0.2 percent gain was tempered by flat food prices and a drop in seasonally adjusted gas prices, said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist for Global Insight. Real gas prices continued to rise, but, due to a shift in seasonal factors, gasoline prices as they are calculated in the PPI dropped. Outside of that, most producer prices bounced up.

"This [gas] decline was akin to getting a run on walks," Bethune said.

The PPI figures are not a broad indicator of apparel pricing, since the vast majority of clothing sold at retail is imported.

Wholesale prices for women's and girls' woven shirts and blouses, knit shirts and blouses, suits and pantsuits and tailored jackets and vests were all flat in April compared with March. Woven shirt and blouse prices increased 0.6 percent and suit and pantsuit prices gained 1.5 percent from April 2007. Tailored jacket and vest prices were flat compared with last year. Wholesale prices for knit shirts and blouses dropped 0.3 percent from April 2007. Dresses increased 0.2 percent from March and 0.9 percent from April 2007.

Prices for textile mill goods, consisting mostly of apparel fabric, saw monthly and year-over-year increases of 0.5 and 3.2 percent, respectively. Textile product mill prices, primarily home furnishing and industrial fabric, dropped 0.1 percent in April versus March and rose 2 percent from the same period last year.

Wholesale yarn prices rose 1.5 percent in April from March and 6.8 percent compared with a year ago. Greige fabric prices increased 0.1 percent in April from March and 2.2 percent from April 2007. Finished fabric prices rose 0.2 from March and 2 percent from the same period a year ago. Synthetic fiber prices increased 0.5 percent from March and the same amount from April of last year.
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