U.S. import prices jump to 0.5% in April, boosted by petroleum, motor vehicles
U.S. import prices increased more than expected in April amid rising costs for petroleum products and a range of other goods, which could help boost domestic inflation.
The Labor Department said on Wednesday that import prices jumped 0.5 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in March. Import prices have now increased for five straight months.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices increasing 0.2 percent in April after a previously reported 0.2 percent drop in March.
In the 12 months through April, import prices rose 4.1 percent, slowing from March’s 4.3 percent increase. Import prices shot up 4.7 percent on a year-on-year basis in February, the biggest gain in five years.
Prices of U.S. Treasuries pared gains after the data. The dollar .DXY was trading lower against a basket of currencies while U.S. stock index futures were mixed.
In April, prices for imported petroleum rebounded 1.6 percent after declining 0.4 percent in March. Import prices excluding petroleum gained 0.4 percent, the biggest increase since July 2016, after edging up 0.1 percent in the prior month.
Import prices excluding petroleum have now risen for four straight months, in part reflecting an ebb in the U.S. dollar’s rally. Import prices excluding petroleum rose 1.4 percent in the 12 months through April, the largest increase since March 2012.
The steady rise in underlying import prices could over time put upward pressure on consumer inflation. A report on Friday is expected to show consumer prices rebounding 0.2 percent in April after falling 0.3 percent in March, according to a Reuters survey of economists.
Prices for imported capital goods nudged up 0.1 percent in April, rising for a third straight month. The cost of imported motor vehicles surged 0.5 percent, the biggest gain in five years.
Prices for imported consumer goods prices excluding automobiles rose 0.1 percent, while the cost of imported food increased 0.3 percent. The cost of goods imported from China dipped 0.1 percent last month after rising 0.2 percent in March.