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U.S. Import Prices Inch Up 0.1% In December, Less Than Expected


With a drop in prices for non-fuel imports partly offsetting a jump in prices for fuel imports, the Labor Department released a report on Wednesday showing U.S. import prices rose by much less than expected in the month of December.

The Labor Department said import prices inched up by 0.1 percent in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.8 percent in November.

Economists had expected import prices to rise by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.7 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

The uptick in imports prices was primarily due to another significant increase in prices for fuel imports, which surged up by 1.8 percent in December after soaring by 8.4 percent in November.

The Labor Department said a 2.0 percent jump in petroleum prices more than offset a 4.9 percent slump in natural gas prices.

On the other hand, the report said prices for non-fuel imports edged down by 0.1 percent in December after creeping up by 0.1 percent in November.

The modest decrease was led by lower prices for foods, feeds, and beverages, consumer goods, and non-fuel industrial supplies and materials.

The report also showed an unexpected decrease in export prices, which edged down by 0.1 percent in December after increasing by 0.5 percent in November. Export prices had expected to rise by 0.3 percent.

The slight drop in export prices came as prices for agricultural exports fell by 0.4 percent in December after tumbling by 0.8 percent in November. Falling vegetable prices led the decline.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said prices for non-agricultural exports were unchanged in December following a 0.6 percent increase in November.

Compared to the same month a year ago, imports prices were up by 3.0 percent in December, while exports prices were up by 2.6 percent.

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