Industrial product prices turned back down in August. A smaller than expected 0.3 percent monthly decline followed an unrevised 0.7 percent rise in July and reduced annual IPPI inflation from 0.1 percent to just minus 0.4 percent.
However, the headline decline was essentially wholly attributable to weakness in the energy subsector where prices were fully 4.7 percent lower versus the start of the quarter. Excluding this category, the IPPI actually rose 0.4 percent and was a solid 4.0 percent higher on the year, its steepest increase since September 2011. In fact, amongst the twenty-one reporting groups, seventeen posted monthly gains, notably in autos (1.4 percent), pulp and paper (1.1 percent) and electrical, electronic, audiovisual and telecommunication products (0.7 percent). The only other faller was chemicals (1.7 percent).
Sharply lower energy costs also lay behind a 6.6 percent monthly slump in the RMPI. This followed a marginally steeper revised 6.0 percent nosedive in July and left the RMPI fully 24.7 percent beneath its level in August 2014. Crude energy collapsed 14.8 percent from July and without which the RMPI would have dropped just 0.9 percent on the month and fallen 2.6 percent on the year. However, there were monthly declines too in metal ores, concentrates and scrap (2.4 percent), crop products (1.2 percent) and logs, pulpwood, natural rubber and other forestry products (0.7 percent). Other categories saw moderate increases.
The August update on pipeline pressures continues to argue in favour of very limited upside risk to Canadian inflation over the foreseeable future. As such, the BoC should have the scope to cut rates again should the recent pick-up in economic activity prove only temporary.
The Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) reflects the prices that producers in Canada receive as the goods leave the plant gate. The IPPI excludes indirect taxes and all the costs that occur between the time a good leaves the plant and the time the final user takes possession of it, including the transportation, wholesale, and retail costs.
The IPPI reflects the prices that Canadian producers receive when goods leave the factory gate, that is, what producers receive for their output. This index is similar to the United Kingdom's producer output index. The index includes prices for major commodities sold by manufacturers, but it excludes indirect taxes and items such as transportation and wholesale and retail costs. The index is affected by the foreign exchange rate of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar, and each month its impact is noted. The RMPI reflects the prices paid by Canadian manufacturers for key raw materials, either domestically or in world markets. It is published simultaneously with the IPPI and, like that index, has a base year of 1997 and is subject to revisions for six months. This index is analogous to the producer input price index published in the United Kingdom.
The IPPI and RMPI measure prices at the producer level before they are passed along to consumers. Since these indexes measure prices of consumer goods and capital equipment, a portion of the inflation at the producer level gets passed through to the consumer price index (CPI). By tracking price pressures in the pipeline, investors can anticipate inflationary consequences in coming months.
While the CPI is the price index with the most impact in setting interest rates, the PPI provides significant information earlier in the production process. As a starting point, interest rates have an "inflation premium" and components for risk factors. A lender will want the money paid back from a loan to at least have the same purchasing power as when loaned. The interest rate at a minimum equals the inflation rate to maintain purchasing power and this generally is based on the CPI. Changes in inflation lead to changes in interest rates and, in turn, in equity prices.
The PPI is considered a precursor of both consumer price inflation and profits. If the prices paid to manufacturers increase, businesses are faced with either charging higher prices or they taking a cut in profits. The ability to pass along price increases depends on the strength and competitiveness of the marketplace.