US import prices rise less than expected in April

US import prices rise less than expected in April

FILE PHOTO - A stack of shipping containers are pictured in the Port of Miami in Miami, Florida, U.S., May 19, 2016.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo
WASHINGTON: U.S. import prices rose less than expected in April as a rebound in the cost of petroleum products was tempered by a drop in food prices, the latest indication that inflation pressures were increasing moderately.The Labor Department said on Friday import prices rose 0.3 percent last month. Data for March was revised to show import prices falling 0.2 percent instead of being unchanged as previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.5 percent in April. In the 12 months through April, import prices increased 3.3 percent, matching March's gain.The report came on the heels of data this week showing tame monthly consumer and wholesale price readings in April. But with oil prices rising in recent days, economists expect prices to push higher in the coming months.Crude prices touched 3-1/2-year highs this week after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and promised tough sanctions against Tehran.Inflation is flirting with the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target. The U.S. central bank's preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, accelerated 1.9 percent year-on-year in March after rising 1.6 percent in February.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the import prices data.Last month, prices for imported petroleum rebounded 1.6 percent after declining 2.2 percent in March. Excluding petroleum, import prices edged up 0.1 percent in April after being unchanged in the prior month. Import prices excluding petroleum rose 1.7 percent in the 12 months through April.The cost of imported food fell 0.4 percent in April, declining for a second straight month, while prices for imported capital goods were unchanged. The cost of imported motor vehicles nudged up 0.1 percent. Prices of consumer goods excluding automobiles gained 0.1 percentImport prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials increased 0.7 percent after jumping 1.0 percent in March. They were driven by a 4.0 percent surge in the prices of iron and steel mill products. Trump imposed a 25 percent import tariff on steel in March to shield domestic producers from what he said was unfair competition.
The cost of goods imported from China slipped 0.1 percent in April, the first drop in seven months, after rising 0.2 percent in March. Prices increased 0.2 percent in the 12 months through April.The report also showed export prices accelerated 0.6 percent in April after gaining 0.3 percent in March. Prices for agricultural products fell 1.2 percent last month, the first drop since December 2017, weighed down by lower prices for soybeans, nuts and wheat.Export prices increased 3.8 percent on a year-on-year basis, the largest gain since November 2011, after rising 3.4 percent in March.(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)
Source: Reuters
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