The amounts suppliers charge to customers rose sharply over the past 12 months, reflecting war and pandemic issues, while gains so far this year have been far more moderate.
The Producer Price Index (PPI) of wholesale inflation rose a record 10% since last year, and 0.8% in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The core PPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 6.6% year-over-year.
Energy cost increases made up the bulk of price gains, the BLS said.
The numbers come as the Federal Reserve meets today to discuss monetary policy, and to possibly raise interest rates for the first time since 2018. The Fed is widely expected to boost rates at the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).
The FOMC’s highly-anticipated policy meeting includes a press conference scheduled for Wednesday. In remarks earlier this month, Powell took the unusual step of saying ahead of the meeting that he would support a 25-basis-point rate hike to combat inflation.
The Woes of Nikola, Tesla
Tesla is raising U.S. and China prices after CEO Elon Musk said the electric carmaker and his space company, SpaceX, are facing significant inflationary pressure in raw materials and logistics. This is the second price hike in a week for Tesla.
Musk said his companies are “not alone,” and retweeted an article saying Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent commodity prices his companies depend on soaring to their highest levels since 2008. Prices of nickel, a key material used in EV batteries, were up 130%, while cobalt, lithium, and aluminum prices surged 16% to 88% this year.
Meanwhile, electric vehicle startup Nikola sank nearly 9% yesterday after asking shareholders to approve an additional 200 million shares to scale up production of its trucks and finish building a U.S. manufacturing facility in Arizona. If approved, the new shares would raise about $1.4 billion at current prices but would dilute existing shareholders’ stock.
Nikola currently has 600 million shares outstanding, and said the increase would be “in the best interests” of the company and its shareholders, according to Nikola’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Investors may or may not want to be reminded of the problems of the companies' brilliant namesake, who died broke and alone in a New York City hotel.