Prices of goods imported to the U.S. surged higher in March, driven by higher prices in both the fuel and non-fuel sectors, according to figures released Wednesday by the Department of Labor.
March saw a 1.3 percent increase in overall import prices, the largest monthly increase since April of 2011, according to Labor Department figures.
While most economists had predicted a large increase in import prices, few had expected it to be so large, with most expecting the increase to come in at 1 percent.
Meanwhile, the 0.4 percent increase in import prices initially reported for February was downwardly revised to show a 0.1 percent drop.
Imported fuel prices showed some of the largest increases, jumping by 3.8 percent, with petroleum import prices rising 4.3 percent, the largest monthly increase in nearly a year.
Non-fuel import prices also increased but by a more modest 0.5 percent.
However, compared to March of 2011, overall import prices were up only 3.4 percent, the smallest 12-month increase since the period between November 2008 and November 2009.
U.S. export prices also increased in March, rising by 0.8 percent, the largest increase since April of 2011.
The export price growth exceeded the 0.3 percent increase predicted by most economists and builds on the 0.4 percent increase in February.
Despite being the largest monthly increase in nearly a year, the overall export price index rose only 0.9 percent compared to March 2011 levels, the smallest year-to-year increase since November of 2009.
Higher prices in the volatile agricultural export sector drove some of the monthly price increase, rising by 2.7 percent, the biggest increase since February of 2011.
The Labor Department attributed much of the price growth to increases in the costs of soybeans and corn, which offset a drop in cotton export prices.
Prices for non-agricultural exports rose at a somewhat slower 0.5 percent rate in March, led by a 1.3 percent increase in non-agricultural supplies and materials prices.
by RTT Staff Writer
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