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U.S. Import Prices Drop More Than Expected Amid Plunge In Fuel Prices

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With fuel prices pulling back sharply, the Labor Department released a report on Friday showing a slightly bigger than expected decrease in U.S. import prices in the month of August.

The report showed import prices fell by 0.5 percent in August after inching up by a downwardly revised 0.1 percent in July.

Economists had expected import prices to drop by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.2 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

The decrease in import prices came as prices for fuel imports plunged by 4.3 percent in August after climbing by 0.7 percent in July. Lower petroleum prices more than offset higher prices for natural gas.

Meanwhile, the report said prices for non-fuel imports came in unchanged for the second month in a row, as lower prices for foods, feeds, and beverages and non-fuel industrial supplies and materials were offset by price increases for automotive vehicles and consumer goods.

The Labor Department also said export prices slid by 0.6 percent in August after rising by 0.2 percent in the previous month. Export prices had been expected to dip by 0.2 percent.

Prices for agricultural exports tumbled by 2.5 percent in August after edging up by 0.2 percent in July, reflecting lower prices for vegetables, corn, soybeans, cotton, meat, and wheat.

The report said prices for non-agricultural exports also fell by 0.4 percent in August after rising by 0.2 percent in July, driven by declines in prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials and automotive vehicles.

Compared to the same month a year ago, import prices in August were down by 2.0 percent, as fuel import prices plummeted by 8.7 percent and non-fuel import prices slid by 1.0 percent.

Export prices were also down by 1.4 percent year-over-year, as a 1.6 percent slump in prices for non-agricultural exports more than offset a 0.5 percent increase in prices for agricultural exports.

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