WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. import prices increased solidly in May amid higher prices for petroleum products, but there were tentative signs of some moderation in underlying imported inflation pressures.
Import prices rose 0.6% last month after gaining 0.4% in April, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. In the 12 months through May, import prices increased 11.7% after advancing 12.5% in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices, which exclude tariffs, increasing 1.1%.
Globally, inflation has surged since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and the war has boosted oil and grain prices.
Government data this week showed monthly consumer and producer prices accelerating in May, fueled by energy costs. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise its policy interest rate later on Wednesday for a third time this year, with an increase of 3/4 of a percentage point seen as likely, and possibly signals for more large hikes to come.
Imported fuel prices shot up 7.5% last month after climbing 0.5% in April. Petroleum prices rebounded 6.7%, while the cost of imported food fell 0.2%.
Excluding fuel and food, import prices dropped 0.3%. These so-called core import prices increased 0.4% in April. They rose 5.5% on a year-on-year basis in May.
The report also showed export prices rose 2.8% in May after advancing 0.8% in April.
Prices for agricultural exports gained 2.1%. Nonagricultural export prices advanced 2.9%. Export prices jumped 18.9% year-on-year in May, the largest gain since September 1984. That followed a an 18.3% increase in April.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)