WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. import prices were unchanged in January as the cost of petroleum products fell, offsetting gains in the prices of motor vehicles and capital goods.
The Labor Department said on Friday last month’s unchanged reading in import prices followed a downwardly revised 0.2% gain in December. Import prices were previously reported to have increased 0.3% in December.
Import prices exclude tariffs. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices falling 0.2% in January.
In the 12 months through January, import prices gained 0.3% after increasing 0.5% in December.
Overall inflation has been moderate, with data on Thursday showing consumer prices in January posting their biggest annual increase since October 2018.
In January, prices for imported fuels and lubricants fell 2.2% after increasing 1.7% in December. Petroleum prices dropped 1.7% after rising 1.0% in December. Imported food prices rose 0.5% last month. That followed a 1.1% jump in December.
Excluding fuels and food, import prices rose 0.2% in January. The so-called core import prices were unchanged in December. Core import prices fell 0.8% in the 12 months through January.
The cost of goods imported from China fell 0.2% in January after being unchanged in the prior month. Prices declined 1.7% year-on-year in January.
The report also showed export prices rose 0.7% in January after falling 0.2% in December. Export prices increased 0.5% on a year-on-year basis in January after dropping 0.9% in December.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)