U.S. Import Prices Rise 0.4% Amid Rebound In Fuel Prices

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Import prices in the U.S. rebounded by slightly more than anticipated in the month of February, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, although the report also showed a modest drop in export prices.

The Labor Department said import prices rose by 0.4 percent in February after plunging by a revised 3.1 percent in January.

Economists had expected prices to edge up by 0.2 percent compared to the 2.8 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.

The rebound in import prices was largely due to an upturn in fuel prices, which surged up by 6.5 percent in February after plummeting by 19.5 percent in January.

An 8.1 percent jump in petroleum prices led fuel prices higher, more than offsetting a 17.9 percent drop in natural gas prices.

Excluding fuel prices, import prices dipped by 0.3 percent in February after falling by 0.6 percent in the previous month.

The decrease reflected lower prices for non-fuel industrial supplies and materials, capital goods, automotive vehicles, and foods, feeds, and beverages.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said export prices edged down by 0.1 percent in February following a 1.9 percent decrease in January. The modest drop in export prices matched economist estimates.

The modest decrease in export prices reflected a sharp drop in prices for agricultural exports, which tumbled by 2.0 percent in February after falling by 1.2 percent in January.

A 5.1 percent decline in soybean prices drove the decrease, although lower prices for wheat, fruit, and meat were also contributing factors.

On the other hand, the report said prices for non-agricultural exports ticked up by 0.2 percent in February after slumping by 2.0 percent in January.

The Labor Department said the rebound was driven by higher prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials and capital goods.

Compared to the same month a year ago, import prices were down by 9.4 percent in February, while export prices were down by 5.9 percent year-over-year.

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