Labor Department said on Thursday that import prices edged up
0.1 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.6 percent
increase in June.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices falling
0.3 percent in July after a previously reported 0.2 percent
advance in June. In the 12 months through July, import prices
fell 3.7 percent, the smallest decrease since November 2014,
after declining 4.7 percent in June.
Last month's gain came despite the dollar rising in July against
the currencies of the United States' main trading partners after
losing some steam early in the year. Oil prices which had
started to rise toward $50 per barrel, fell in July. Oil prices
are now below $45 per barrel.
The combination of dollar strength and cheap oil will likely
continue to dampen imported inflation pressures and keep overall
inflation below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target.
Persistently low inflation suggests the U.S. central bank is
unlikely to raise interest rates in the near term, even as the
labor market approaches full employment.
Last month, imported petroleum prices fell 3.6 percent after
surging 10.6 percent in June. Import prices excluding petroleum
increased 0.5 percent, the largest gain since April 2011.
Imported consumer goods prices excluding automobiles dipped 0.1
percent. Prices for imported food prices jumped 3.3 percent last
month, the biggest increase since March 2014.
The report also showed export prices increased 0.2 percent in
July after rising 0.8 percent in June. Export prices were down
3.0 percent from a year ago.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao) ((Lucia.Mutikani@thomsonreuters.com;
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