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[WASHINGTON] US import prices increased in July after two straight monthly declines, driven by rising costs for petroleum products and food, but underlying imported inflation remained muted.
The Labour Department said on Tuesday that import prices edged up 0.1 per cent last month after an unrevised 0.2 per cent drop in June. Last month's increase was in line with economists'expectations and left the 12-month increase at 1.5 per cent.
The year-on-year increase in import prices has slowed sharply since hitting 4.7 per cent in February, which was the biggest advance in five years.
Imported inflation has been dampened by a strong dollar. With the greenback falling 6.6 per cent against the currencies of the United States' main trading partners this year, price pressures are expected to start creeping up.
Prices for imported petroleum increased 0.7 per cent in July after decreasing 2.9 per cent in June.
Import prices excluding petroleum were unchanged after rising 0.1 per cent in the prior month. Import prices excluding petroleum increased 0.9 per cent in the 12 months through July.
Prices for imported capital goods nudged up 0.1 per cent. Imported motor vehicle prices fell 0.2 per cent for a second straight month. The cost of imported food increased 0.6 per cent.
The report also showed export prices rebounded 0.4 per cent in July, the biggest gain since December 2016, after falling 0.2 per cent in June. Export prices increased 0.8 per cent on a year-on-year basis after rising 0.6 per cent in the 12 months through June.