U.S. Import Prices Rose More Than Expected in April

By Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath Features Dow Jones Newswires

Overall prices for foreign goods shipped to the U.S. rose last month.

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Import prices increased 0.5% in April from a month earlier, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.1% increase. Unlike most measures of inflation, import prices are not adjusted for seasonality.

From a year earlier, overall import prices grew 4.1%.

Higher fuel prices and nonfuel prices contributed to April's rise in import prices. The price of imported petroleum increased 1.6% from March. Outside of petroleum, import prices grew 0.4% last month, the largest advance since July.

The import-price index is one of several gauges the Federal Reserve studies to understand how quickly prices for products are rising in the U.S. The Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the Commerce Department's personal-consumption-expenditures index, advanced 1.8% year over year in March. Signs of firming inflation give the central bank leeway to consider raising its benchmark rate. The Fed held interest rates steady at its latest meeting but is expected to lift rates two more times this year.

Wednesday's report also showed prices for U.S. exports increased 0.2% in April from a month earlier. From a year earlier, export prices were up 3%.

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The Labor Department report on import and export prices can be accessed at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ximpim.toc.htm.

Write to Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com and Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 10, 2017 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT)