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US import prices increase on gains in petroleum, food costs
[WASHINGTON] US import prices rose in September as the cost of petroleum and a range of other goods increased, suggesting import deflation was starting to ebb.
The Labour Department said on Thursday import prices gained 0.1 per cent last month after an unrevised 0.2 per cent decline in August. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.2 per cent last month.
In the 12 months through September, import prices fell 1.1 per cent, the smallest decrease since August 2014, after declining 2.2 per cent in August. A strong dollar has resulted in the country importing deflation, helping to hold inflation persistently below the Federal Reserve's 2 per cent target.
But with the dollar's rally gradually fading and oil prices continuing to stabilize, some of the deflationary pressures from overseas should start to ease and allow inflation to gradually rise toward its target.
Last month, imported petroleum prices increased 1.2 per cent after decreasing 3.0 per cent in August. Import prices excluding petroleum were unchanged for a second straight month. The cost of imported food increased 0.6 per cent.
Prices for imported capital goods edged up 0.1 per cent, rising for the first time since June 2014, while the cost of imported automobiles increased 0.2 per cent. Imported consumer goods prices excluding automobiles were unchanged last month.
The report also showed export prices rose 0.3 per cent in September after falling 0.8 per cent in August. Export prices were down 1.5 per cent from a year ago. That was the smallest decline since October 2014.