U.S. Import Prices Jump More Than Expected Amid Spike In Fuel Prices

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Reflecting a jump in fuel prices, the Labor Department released a report on Wednesday showing U.S. import prices increased by more than expected in the month of May.

The Labor Department said import prices jumped by 1.1 percent in May after climbing by an upwardly revised by 0.8 percent in April.

Economists had expected import prices to increase by 0.8 percent compared to the 0.7 percent advance originally reported for the previous month.

Prices for fuel imports led the way higher, spiking by 4.0 percent in May after surging by 1.6 percent in April. The jump reflected notable increases in prices for both petroleum and natural gas.

Excluding fuel, import prices advanced by 0.9 percent in May after climbing by 0.7 percent in April. The increase reflected higher prices for non-fuel industrial supplies and materials, consumer goods, and automotive vehicles.

Compared to the same month a year ago, import prices in May were up by 11.3 percent, reflecting the biggest annual increase since September of 2011.

"As supply-side constraints gradually dissipate and the influence of base effects gradually fades in the coming months, we expect the pace of import price inflation to moderate in the second half of the year," said Mahir Rasheed, U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

The report also showed export prices spiked by 2.2 percent in May after surging by an upwardly revised 1.1 percent in April.

Economists had expected export prices to climb by 0.8 percent, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

The much bigger than expected increase in export prices was partly due to a 6.1 percent spike in prices for agricultural exports, which reflected sharply higher prices for soybeans, corn and wheat.

Prices for non-agricultural exports also jumped 1.7 percent in May, driven by higher prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials and consumer goods.

Export prices soared by 17.4 percent year-over-year in May, showing the biggest increase since the data was first published in September of 1983.

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