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Industrial index edges up in March, raw material index drops

CBJ - May 7 - -The Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) edged up 0.2 per cent in March, led by higher prices for petroleum and coal products, according to a report by Statistics Canada. However, the advance of IPPI was moderated by primary metal products (-1 per cent). The Raw Materials Price Index (RMPI) declined 1.6 per cent, largely because of mineral fuels.

The IPPI was up 0.2 per cent in March compared with February. Despite a third consecutive gain, the IPPI remained below its recent 2011 peak. The number of product groups that have risen since the beginning of the year declined to six in March.

The increase in the IPPI in March was primarily the result of higher prices for petroleum and coal products (1.8 per cent), particularly gasoline (4.7 per cent), which was up for a third straight month.

Fruit, vegetables, and feeds (0.8 per cent) and lumber and other wood products (0.7 per cent) also contributed to the increase of the index. Prices for fruit, vegetables, and feeds were pushed upward mainly by feeds (2.2 per cent).

Softwood lumber (1.3 per cent) was the leading factor in the increase in lumber and other wood product prices. The strength of building permits in the United States played a role in sustaining prices, although the demand for wood was modest.

The advance in the IPPI was moderated mainly by primary metal products (-1 per cent), particularly nickel products (-8.8 per cent), aluminum products (-1.2 per cent), silver and platinum (-4 per cent) and gold and gold alloys in primary forms (-4.4 per cent). The decline in nickel and aluminum prices was partly a result of weaker economic activity in Asia, a large importer of metals.

Compared with the same month a year earlier, the IPPI rose 0.9 per cent in March. The index continued to rise on a 12-month basis, though its growth has been slowing since September 2011. Relative to March 2011, the index was pushed upward mainly by higher prices for petroleum and coal products (4.2 per cent), notably gasoline (7.9 per cent).

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