CHICAGO The price index for copper-based scrap logged a third consecutive monthly gain in February, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while those for ferrous scrap and aluminum scrap lost ground.
The Producer Price Index (PPI) for copper-based scrap stood at 629.5 in February, not seasonally adjusted, up 1.5 percent month on month and 3.3 percent higher than December. The PPI for copper and brass mill shapes, at 437.7, improved 0.7 percent from January.
Meanwhile, the PPI for iron and steel scrap fell 3.5 percent month on month to 515.3. Steel mill products, with a PPI of 196.7, fell 0.9 percent in the same comparison.
The price index for aluminum-based scrap fell 0.6 percent, while that for aluminum mill shapes rose 0.6 percent from January levels.
The headline finished goods PPI moved up 0.7 percent (seasonally adjusted) last month, led by energy and food prices. But the price index for crude materials, minus energy, fell 1.7 percent compared with January, with nearly half of the decline attributable to carbon steel scrap, which fell 3.7 percent, the BLS said.
Inflation remains quiet. Oil and gasoline prices have fallen since February, so the headline PPI should drop in March, Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight Inc., Lexington, Mass., predicted.
The Federal Reserves Beige Book, a business survey of current economic conditions, reports that fuel costs moved higher, with the exception of natural gas. Survey respondents also noted higher crop, housing, wholesale and retail prices, but these reports were scattered and not across the board.