A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday unexpectedly showed a modest decrease in producer prices in the month of December.
The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand edged down by 0.1 percent in December after climbing by 0.4 percent in November. Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.2 percent.
The unexpected decrease was primarily due to a drop in prices for services, with the prices for final demand services index slipping by 0.2 percent in December after rising by 0.2 percent in November.
A major factor in the decline in prices for final demand services was a 10.7 percent slump by the index for automotive fuels and lubricants retailing.
Prices for final demand trade services slid by 0.6 percent, while prices for final demand transportation and warehousing services fell by 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the index for final demand services less trade, transportation, and warehousing inched up by 0.1 percent.
The report also showed a decrease in food prices, which dropped by 0.7 percent in December after increasing by 0.3 percent in November.
Energy prices came in unchanged during the month of December after surging up by 4.6 percent in the previous month.
Excluding food and energy prices, core producer prices still dipped by 0.1 percent in December following a 0.3 percent increase in November. Core prices had also been expected to tick up by 0.2 percent.
Compared to the same month a year ago, producer prices were up by 2.6 percent in December and core producer prices were up by 2.3 percent.
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release a separate report on consumer prices in the month of December.
Consumer prices are expected to rise by 0.2 percent in December after climbing by 0.4 percent in November. Core consumer prices are also expected to edge up by 0.2 percent.