WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - After reporting a sharp increase in U.S. import prices in the previous month, the Labor Department released a report on Friday showing imports prices were unexpectedly unchanged in the month of April.
The Labor Department said import prices came in flat in April after surging by an upwardly revised 2.9 percent in March.
Economists had expected import prices to climb by 0.6 percent compared to the 2.6 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.
Import prices came in unchanged as a significant pullback in prices for fuel imports was offset by an increase in prices for non-fuel imports.
The report said prices for fuel imports slumped by 2.4 percent in April after skyrocketing by 17.3 percent in March, while prices for non-fuel prices rose by 0.4 percent in April after jumping by 1.2 percent in March.
The pullback in prices for fuel imports came as lower petroleum prices more than offset higher natural gas prices, although the Labor Department noted import fuel prices were still up by 64.3 percent year-over-year.
Meanwhile, higher prices for non-fuel industrial supplies and material, capital goods, foods, feeds, and beverages and automotive vehicles all contributed to the April increase in non-fuel import prices.
The report also showed the annual rate of growth in imports prices slowed to 12.0 percent in April from an upwardly revised 13.0 percent in March.
'April's slowdown in import price inflation is encouraging as it follows some moderation in both the consumer and producer price inflation data earlier this week,' said Mahir Rasheed, U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
He added, 'However, we expect the descent in import price inflation to be gradual and prolonged as energy prices remain elevated and robust goods demand will decelerate at a slow pace.'
At the same time, the Labor Department said export prices advanced by 0.6 percent in April after soaring by a downwardly revised 4.1 percent in March.
Export prices were expected to increase by 0.7 percent compared to the 4.5 percent spike originally reported for the previous month.
Prices for agricultural exports jumped by 1.1 percent in April after surging by 4.3 percent in March, while prices for non-agricultural exports rose by 0.5 percent in April after shooting up by 4.1 percent in March.
Export prices in April were up by 18.0 percent compared to the same month a year ago, reflecting a modest slowdown from the revised 18.6 percent spike in March.
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