WASHINGTON: While fuel prices showed a substantial rebound, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing that U.S. import prices rose by less than expected in the month of December.
The Labor Department said import prices climbed by 0.4 percent in December after edging down by a revised 0.2 percent in November. Economists had expected import prices to increase by 0.7 percent compared to the 0.3 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
The weaker than expected import price growth came as the jump in prices for fuel imports was partly offset by a drop in prices for non-fuel imports. Prices for fuel imports spiked by 7.3 percent in December, reflecting by a 7.9 percent jump in petroleum prices as well as 2.2 percent increase in natural gas prices.
On the other hand, prices for non-fuel prices fell for the third straight month, dipping by 0.2 percent. The drop was led by lower prices for foods, feeds, and beverages. The report also said export prices rose by 0.3 percent in December after slipping by 0.1 percent in November. Export prices had been expected to inch up by 0.2 percent.
Prices for non-agricultural exports increased by 0.4 percent, more than offsetting a 0.3 percent decline in prices for agricultural exports.
Compared to the same month a year ago, import prices were up by 1.8 percent, reflecting the fastest rate of growth since spring of 2012. Export prices were up by 1.1 percent year-over-year.