The Producer Price Index increased by 1.6% in February to 186.9(1982=100), higher than the expected 0.6% increase, following a 0.8% increase in January and a 0.9% increase in December. This was the largest increase in finished goods prices since a 1.9% increase in June 2009. Over the year, the index has advanced 5.6%, the largest 12-month increase since a 5.9% rise in March 2010. The index for energy goods increased by 3.3% in February, the fifth straight monthly increase. Prices for consumer foods surged 3.9%in February, the largest increase since a 4.2% increase in November 1974. Excluding food and energy prices, Core PPI increased by 0.2% after increasing by 0.5% in January.
Housing Starts in February decreased by 22.5% to an annual pace of 479,000, lower than the expected level of 572,000, from the revised figure of 618,000 in January (originally reported at 596,000). Over the year the figure has decreased by 20.8% from the February 2010 rate of 605,000. Building Permits decreased by 8.2% over the month to 517,000, lower than the expected level of 578,000, following 563,000 permits annualized in January (originally reported at 562,000). Over the year, Building Permits decreased by 20.5% from the 650,000 pace in February 2010.