3rd Straight Rise for U.S. Import Prices

Prices for items Americans import increased for a third straight month in March, driven by higher fuel prices, but the underlying trend remained soft.

Figures released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department revealed import prices rose 0.6% last month, boosted by increases in the costs of fuels and industrial supplies. Data for February was revised higher to show import prices rising 1%, the largest monthly advance since May 2016.

Petroleum prices rose 4.7% in March, slowing from February’s 9.7% gain. Industrial supplies and materials were up 2.7%.

Economists had forecast import prices making their way 0.4% in March. Excluding petroleum, import prices rose 0.2%

In the 12 months through March, import prices were unchanged after declining on an annual basis in the three prior months.