WASHINGTON—The overall price of goods shipped to the U.S. rose in June due to a rebound in oil markets, but underlying trends raised new concerns about the strength of the global economy.
Import prices, measuring what U.S. companies pay for everything from South Korean cars to Middle Eastern oil, increased 0.2% in June from a month earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
Rising import prices often point to stronger spending by consumers and businesses, a sign of economic strength. Import prices have risen for four consecutive months, partly reversing a long decline that began in mid-2014.
But Wednesday’s report sent mixed signals. Prices rose last month due entirely to higher fuel costs, with prices for oil and natural gas strengthening. Outside of fuel, prices for all other goods fell 0.3%, the biggest decline since December. Prices for food, machinery and consumer-related products all declined.
The rebound in oil prices that began earlier this year has eased, and the dollar, after rising this year against other currencies, has fallen again, suggesting the global economy remains wobbly.
“With the effects of lower oil prices and past appreciation of the dollar having largely waned, the renewed weakness in import prices is a concern,” Barclays analyst Blerina Uruci said in a note to clients. “Although we caution against over-interpreting import price data, this weakness is worth monitoring carefully, as it likely reflects soft demand, either domestically or internationally.”