U.S. Import Prices Dropped in June

By Sarah Chaney and Ben LeubsdorfFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Overall prices for foreign goods shipped to the U.S. fell in June, driven by a decline in fuel prices.

Import prices decreased 0.2% in June from a month earlier, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.3% decrease in import prices. Unlike some measures of inflation, import prices are not adjusted for seasonality.

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Over the past year, overall import prices have grown 1.5%.

Lower fuel prices drove June's decline. Outside of petroleum, import prices rose 0.1% last month and rose 1.4% over the past year, matching the largest annual advance since March 2012.

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 1.4% in May from a year earlier. That was a slowdown from a 2.1% annual increase in February, the first time since 2012 the index's annual increase slightly exceeded the Fed's target.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in her congressional testimony last week that rising prices of imported goods supported her expectation that a recent downturn in inflation would prove transitory.

"With respect to the global economy, we've been through a period in which there's been a substantial appreciation of the dollar, and that depressed for quite some time import prices," Ms Yellen said. "But that trend has now come to an end and import prices are rising at a modest rate. So I don't see the global economy as, at this point, mainly responsible for the low inflation readings."

Tuesday's report also showed prices for U.S. exports decreased 0.2% in June from a month earlier. From a year earlier, export prices were up 0.6% in June.

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 Ben Leubsdorf at ben.leubsdorf@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 18, 2017 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT)