U.S. Import Price Growth Decelerates

Price growth for foreign-produced goods decelerated at the end of 2017, driven lower by a drop in prices for non-fuel products.

Import prices increased just 0.1% in December from the previous month, following four consecutive months of stronger price growth, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.5% increase in December. Data on import prices are not adjusted for seasonality.

From a year earlier, import prices grew 3.0%, the largest calendar-year advance since import prices rose 8.5% in 2011.

When excluding petroleum, import prices were down 0.2% last month. Petroleum and petroleum product prices increased 2.0% and crude prices rose 2.5%, offsetting the drop in non-fuel product prices.

Federal Reserve policy makers use the import-price index, along with other price increase gauges, to determine how quickly prices for products are rising in the U.S. The broader personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge, grew 1.8% in November from a year earlier.

Wednesday's report also showed prices for U.S. exports down 0.1% in December from a month earlier and up 2.6% from the prior year.

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

Write to Sharon Nunn at sharon.nunn@wsj.com and Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 10, 2018 08:45 ET (13:45 GMT)