US producer prices fell in November for 2nd month

US producer prices fell for the second straight month in November, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, losing 0.8 percent in a sign that inflation pressures remain muted in the economy.

The main pull downward was a 4.6 percent drop in energy prices; food prices rose 1.3 percent. Stripped of those two volatile components, the rate was an increase of just 0.1 percent.

Year-on-year, the producer price index for finished goods was up just 1.5 percent, after three months at or above 2.0 percent.

Inflation has become less of a concern for policymakers despite four years of extremely easy-money policies of the central bank.

On Wednesday the Federal Reserve underscored that point by tying its interest rates more closely to the jobless rate, saying that as long as medium-term inflation expectations remained moderate -- below 2.5 percent -- it would not begin raising its benchmark interest rate until unemployment fell below 6.5 percent.

The jobless rate was 7.7 percent in November.

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