Weak consumer, capital goods curb U.S. import prices

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[July 13, 2016]  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. import prices rose less than expected in June as rising costs for petroleum products were offset by declining consumer and capital goods prices, suggesting inflation could remain benign for a while.


The Labor Department said on Wednesday import prices increased 0.2 percent last month after an unrevised 1.4 percent jump in May. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.5 percent in June.

The modest increase likely reflects the lingering effects of the dollar's surge between June 2014 and December 2015, which continues to dampen imported inflation pressures and keep overall inflation below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.

In the 12 months through June, import prices fell4.8 percent, the smallest drop since November 2014.

Last month, imported petroleum prices rose 6.4 percent after soaring 16.3 percent in May. Import prices excluding petroleum fell 0.3 percent as the cost of capital goods slipped 0.3 percent and consumer goods, excluding automobiles dropped 0.2 percent.

The cost of imported industrial supplies and materials excluding fuels decreased 0.3 percent. Imported food prices tumbled 1.3 percent last month. The report also showed export prices increased 0.8 percent in June, after rising 1.2 percent in May. Export prices fell 3.5 percent from a year ago.

Prices for agricultural exports increased 2.4 percent, boosted by higher soybean and corn prices. Prices for nonagricultural exports rose 0.5 percent last month.

The increase was led by gains in prices for industrial supplies and material, as well as capital goods. But prices for consumer goods exports fell.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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