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U.S. import-price index increases slightly more than forecast in March

The report released by the Labor Department on Friday revealed the U.S. import-price index increased 0.4 per cent m-o-m in March, following an unrevised 0.3 per cent m-o-m gain in February. This was the third straight monthly advance in the U.S. import prices.

Economists had forecast import prices to rise 0.3 per cent m-o-m last month.

According to the report, the March gain mainly reflected a 4.7 per cent m-o-m soar in fuel import prices. In addition, prices for non-fuel imports edged up 0.1 per cent m-o-m.

Over the 12-month period that ended in March, import prices also increased 0.4 per cent, recording the first 12-month gain since January 2023, underpinned by a 4.8 per cent surge in fuel prices. Meanwhile, non-fuel prices were flat. 

The report also showed that the price index for U.S. exports rose 0.3 per cent m-o-m in March, following a downwardly revised 0.7 per cent m-o-m jump (from +0.8 per cent m-o-m) in the previous month. This represented the third consecutive monthly gain in export prices. 

Economists had forecast export prices to gain 0.3 per cent m-o-m in March.

The March advance in the U.S. export-price index reflected a 0.4 per cent m-o-m increase in prices for non-agricultural exports that was partly offset by a 0.7 per cent m-o-m drop in prices for agricultural exports.

Over the past 12 months, the price index for exports plunged 1.4 per cent, driven by an 8.1 per cent tumble in prices of agricultural exports and a 0.6 per cent m-o-m decrease in prices of non-agricultural exports. This marked the 13th annual fall in U.S. export prices in a row. which was also the weakest one since February 2023 (-0.8 per cent).

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