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US import prices rise modestly on weak consumer, capital goods

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US import prices rose less than expected in June as rising costs for petroleum products were offset by declining consumer and capital goods prices, suggesting inflation could remain benign for a while.

[WASHINGTON] US import prices rose less than expected in June as rising costs for petroleum products were offset by declining consumer and capital goods prices, suggesting inflation could remain benign for a while.

The Labour Department said on Wednesday import prices increased 0.2 per cent last month after an unrevised 1.4 per cent jump in May. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.5 per cent in June.

The modest increase likely reflects the lingering effects of the dollar's surge between June 2014 and December 2015, which continues to dampen imported inflation pressures and keep overall inflation below the Federal Reserve's 2 per cent target.

In the 12 months through June, import prices fell 4.8 per cent, the smallest drop since November 2014.

Last month, imported petroleum prices rose 6.4 per cent after soaring 16.3 per cent in May.

Import prices excluding petroleum fell 0.3 per cent as the cost of capital goods prices slipped 0.3 per cent and consumer goods, excluding automobiles dropped 0.2 per cent. The cost of imported industrial supplies and materials excluding fuels decreased 0.3 per cent. Imported food prices tumbled 1.3 per cent last month.

The report also showed export prices increased 0.8 per cent in June, after rising 1.2 per cent in May. Export prices fell 3.5 per cent from a year ago.

REUTERS