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US import prices rise as petroleum posts biggest gain since 2009

[WASHINGTON] A surge in the cost of petroleum boosted US import prices in May after 10 straight months of declines, but a strong dollar continued to curb underlying imported inflation pressures.

The Labour Department said on Thursday import prices increased 1.3 per cent last month, the largest gain since March 2012, after sliding by a revised 0.2 per cent in April.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.8 per cent after a previously reported 0.3 per cent drop in April. In the 12 months through May prices fell 9.6 per cent.

Last month, imported petroleum prices surged 12.7 per cent per cent, the biggest increase since June 2009, after increasing 1.8 per cent in April.

Import prices excluding petroleum were unchanged in May. The dollar, which has gained about 13.2 per cent against the currencies of the United States' main trading partners since June, is dampening underlying imported inflation pressures.

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Imported food prices rose 0.3 per cent after declining 1.0 per cent in April.

The report also showed export prices rose 0.6 per cent last month, the biggest gain since March 2014, after falling 0.7 per cent in April. Export prices declined 5.9 per cent in the 12 months through May.


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