U.S. Import And Export Prices Jump More Than Expected In December

A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed U.S. import and export prices both increased by more than expected in the month of December.

The Labor Department said import prices climbed by 0.9 percent in December after edging up by a revised 0.2 percent in November.

Economists had expected import prices to rise by 0.6 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Prices for fuel imports led the way higher, spiking by 7.8 percent in December after surging up by 4.8 percent in November. Rising petroleum prices more than offset lower natural gas prices.

Excluding fuel imports, import prices rose by 0.4 percent in December after dipping by 0.2 percent in the previous month.

Higher prices for non-fuel industrial supplies and materials and consumer goods more than offset declining foods, feeds, and beverages prices.

The report said export prices also jumped by 1.1 percent in December following a revised 0.7 percent advance in November.

Export prices were expected to climb by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Prices for agricultural exports surged up by 1.3 percent in December after rising by 0.3 percent in November. Higher prices for soybeans more than offset declining prices for vegetables and dairy products.

The Labor Department said prices for non-agricultural exports also rose by 0.6 percent in December after spiking by 3.5 percent in November. Prices for non-agricultural industrial supplies and materials led the way higher.

Despite the monthly increase, import prices in December were down by 0.3 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Export prices were up by 0.2 percent year-over-year.

“Recovering fuel costs may raise import prices in the near term, but still-weak global growth will keep imported inflation subdued across 2021,” said James Watson, Senior U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

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