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US import prices rise, but inflation pressures still muted
[WASHINGTON] US import prices rose in February after seven months of declines as the cost of petroleum increased, but there was still little sign of imported inflation pressures.
The Labour Department said on Thursday import prices gained 0.4 per cent after a revised 3.1 per cent plunge in January.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.2 per cent after a previously reported 2.8 per cent decline in January.
In the 12 months through February prices fell 9.4 per cent.
Between June and January, crude prices fell 60 per cent on fears of a global oil glut and the refusal of Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members to cut output. Last month, Brent stabilized at around US$60 and US crude at around US$50.
Last month, imported petroleum prices rose 8.1 per cent after tumbling 20.6 per cent in January. Imported food prices dipped 0.2 per cent after sliding 1.6 per cent in January.
Import prices excluding petroleum fell 0.4 per cent in February after January's 0.6 per cent drop.
That reflects the dollar's strength against the currencies of the country's main trading partners, which is contributing to keeping inflation below the Federal Reserve's 2 per cent target.
The Labour Department report also showed export prices dipped 0.1 per cent in February after falling 1.9 per cent in January. Export prices dropped 5.9 per cent in the 12 months through February.