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US import prices rise less than expected in October

[WASHINGTON] US import prices rose less than expected in October as an increase in the cost of imported petroleum and capital goods was offset by a decline in food prices.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that import prices gained 0.2 per cent last month after an upwardly revised 0.8 per cent jump in September. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices increasing 0.4 per cent in October after a previously reported 0.7 per cent gain in September.

In the 12 months through October, import prices increased 2.5 per cent, slowing after a 2.7 per cent rise in September.

Last month, prices for imported petroleum increased 1.7 per cent after surging 6.3 percent in September. Import prices excluding petroleum edged up 0.1 per cent after shooting up 0.4 per cent the prior month. Import prices excluding petroleum rose 1.4 per cent in the 12 months through October.

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A weak dollar, which has this year lost 5.4 per cent of its value against the currencies of the United States' main trading partners, could keep import prices outside petroleum supported.

Imported capital goods prices rose 0.2 per cent last month, while the cost of imported food fell 0.2 per cent.

The report also showed export prices were unchanged in October as the biggest monthly increase in the price of agricultural exports in nearly 1-1/2 years was eclipsed by a drop in nonagricultural prices. Export prices rose 0.7 per cent in September. They increased 2.7 per cent year-on-year after rising 2.8 per cent in September.