US import prices jump more than expected in January

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Washington (Reuters): Import prices in the U.S. jumped by more than expected in the month of January, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday, while export price growth also exceeded estimates.

The Labor Department said import prices surged up by 1.0% in January after edging up by a revised 0.2% in December.

Economists had expected import prices to climb by 0.6% compared to the 0.1% uptick originally reported for the previous month.

In the 12 months through January, import prices increased 3.6 percent, the largest advance since April 2017, quickening from a 3.2 percent rise in December.

Data this week showed an acceleration in consumer and producer prices in January. The increases have bolstered expectations that inflation will rise this year and potentially breach the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.

Excluding prices for fuel imports, import prices rose by 0.4 percent in January after edging down by 0.1 percent in December.

Higher prices for non-fuel industrial supplies and materials, automotive vehicles, foods, feeds, and beverages, and capital goods all contributed to the rebound.

The report also said export prices increased by 0.8 percent in January after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in December.

Last month, prices for imported petroleum increased 4.3 percent after rising 2.3 percent in December. Import prices excluding petroleum gained 0.5 percent, the largest increase since July 2016, after being unchanged in the prior month.

The rise in imported prices excluding petroleum likely reflects the dollar’s depreciation against the currencies of the United States’ main trading partners.

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