U.S. import prices flat last month

U.S. import prices were unchanged in July, as an increase in the cost of fuels was offset by weak prices elsewhere, suggesting that a strong dollar was keeping imported inflation in check.

The U.S. Labor Department released figure Tuesday declaring the flat reading in import prices last month followed an upwardly revised 0.1% drop in June. Import prices were previously reported to have declined 0.4% in June.

Economists had forecast import prices gaining 0.1% in July. In the 12 months through July, import prices rose 4.8% the largest gain since February 2012, after increasing 4.7% in June.

Last month, prices for imported fuels and lubricants jumped 1.6% after rising 1.3% in June. Food prices dropped 1.8% after declining 2.6% in June. Excluding fuels and food, import prices slipped 0.1% in July after falling 0.2% in the prior month.

The so-called core import prices increased 1.6% in the 12 months through July.