In April, U.S. import prices increased for a second month in a row as the price of petroleum products and a range of other goods advanced, suggesting inflation could start tightening in the months to come. The Labor Department added on Thursday that import prices gained 0.3 percent in April after an upwardly revised 0.3 percent hike in March. The gain last month reflected a increase in oil prices and the dollar’s depreciation. A poll by economists had estimated import prices spiking 0.5 percent in April after March’s previously reported 0.2 percent advance. Prices for imported goods fell 5.7 percent in the 12 months through April, reflecting the hovering effects of the dollar’s sharp rebound and the oil price drop between June 2014 and December 2015.
April’s increase in import prices suggested that the disinflationary impulse from a stronger dollar, which has helped to hold inflation well below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, was declining. The dollar has weakened this year 2.5% versus the currencies of the United States main trading partners. The greenbacks advanced 20% on a trade- weighed basis between June 2014 and December 2015. Also oil prices have shrugged off multi-year lows. Imported petroleum prices rose 4.1 percent last month after increasing 9.6 percent in March.. Import prices not including petroleum inched higher 0.1 percent, the first increase since March 2014. Imported food prices increased 1.3 percent in April, also the biggest gain since March 2014. Prices for imported industrial supplies and materials excluding petroleum increased 0.4 percent. Prices for imported capital goods dropped 0.1 percent, while the cost of imported automobiles edged up 0.1 percent. Prices for imported consumer goods excluding autos fell 0.3 percent. Next, the reports also displayed export prices gaining 0.5% in April, the biggest gain since May 2015 following being flat in March. Export prices dropped 5.0% from 2015.