U.S. import prices fell for the second consecutive month in December, the Labor Department revealed in a report on Friday, with the modest decrease coming as a surprise to economists.
The report showed that import prices edged down by 0.1 percent in December following a revised 0.8 percent drop in November.
Economists had expected prices to inch up by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.9 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
The unexpected drop in import prices was partly due to a 0.1 percent decrease in fuel import prices, which came on the heels of a 2.8 percent tumble in November.
Non-fuel import prices also edged down by 0.1 percent in December after dipping by 0.2 percent in November, with the modest decrease reflecting lower prices for capital goods, consumer goods, and foods, feeds, and beverages.
The Labor Department noted that import prices fell 1.5 percent in 2012, reflecting the first calendar year decrease since a 10.1 percent drop in 2008. Import prices rose 8.5 percent in 2011.
The report also showed that export prices dipped by 0.1 percent in December after falling by 0.7 percent in the previous month. The drop came in line with economist estimates.
The modest drop in export prices came as a 0.2 percent drop in prices for non-agricultural exports more than offset a 0.1 percent increase in prices for agricultural exports.
Falling prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials, capital goods, and consumer goods contributed to the drop in prices for non-agricultural exports.
Export prices rose 1.1 percent in 2012 following a 3.6 percent increase in 2011. The price growth in 2012 represented the smallest calendar-year increase since prices fell 2.9 percent in 2008.
by RTT Staff Writer
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