Business: Mixed Signals

Is the U.S. headed for another prolonged struggle with double-digit inflation? So it seemed last month when the Government announced that consumer prices had surged ahead at a compounded annual rate of 15.4% in July. But the latest signs are inconclusive, if by no means reassuring. The Labor Department reported last week that wholesale prices−which usually foreshadow consumer price movements by several months−;rose by "only" 0.8% in August, after a big 1.2% jump in July. The August increase, which translates into a 9.6% annual rate, was held down mainly by a drop in prices for farm products, but the figures...

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