WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - U.S. import prices
unexpectedly fell in December amid a decline in the cost of
petroleum products, adding to signs that the worst of high
inflation was probably over.
Import prices dropped 0.2% last month, the first decrease
since August, after increasing 0.7% in November, the Labor
Department said on Friday. In the 12 months through December,
prices rose 10.4% after advancing 11.7% in November.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices,
which exclude tariffs, gaining 0.3%.
The government reported on Thursday that producer prices
rose just 0.2% in December, the smallest increase since November
2020. Hopes that inflation has peaked or is close to doing so
where boosted by a moderation in China's producer prices in
December. Economists expect slower Chinese PPI will eventually
show up in the U.S. prices. Supply chains are also improving.
Imported fuel prices declined 6.5% last month after rising
2.3% in November. Petroleum prices fell 6.0%, while the cost of
imported food increased 0.5%.
Excluding fuel and food, import prices rose 0.5%. These
so-called core import prices advanced 0.6% in November. They
increased 5.7% on a year-on-year basis in December.
The report also showed export prices tumbled 1.8% in
December after rising 0.8% in November. Prices for agricultural
exports rose 0.8%. Nonagricultural export prices dropped 2.1%.
Export prices increased 14.7% year-on-year in December. That
followed a 18.2% annual surge in November.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)