U.S. Import, Export Prices Rise Less Than Expected in November

U.S. import prices recorded their largest increase in seven months in November as the cost of petroleum surged, a government report showed on Wednesday, but underlying imported inflation pressures remain contained.

Overall import prices rebounded 0.7 percent, the Labor Department said, after falling 0.5 percent in October. The increase last month was the largest since April.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected prices to rise 0.9 percent last month. Import prices were up 9.9 percent in the 12 months through November.

Stripping out petroleum, import prices fell 0.2 percent after declining 0.3 percent in October.

Despite the 3.6 percent spike in the cost of imported petroleum last month, inflation pressures remain largely in check, after a surge in energy prices early this year dampened economic growth.

The Federal Reserve said on Tuesday it expected inflation to settle at levels at or below those consistent with its price stability mandate.

Data on Thursday is expected to show that energy costs pushed wholesale prices up 0.2 percent last month, according to a Reuters survey, after declining 0.3 percent in October.

However, slow growth and high unemployment mean producers have little scope to pass on the increased costs to consumers. Consumer prices are seen edging up 0.1 percent in November after slipping 0.1 percent in October.

Imported petroleum prices rose in November for the first time since July and reversed a 1.1 percent drop in October.

Pointing to benign inflation pressures, imported food prices slipped 0.1 percent last month after falling 0.7 percent in October.